Shortlisted 2021

Travel and Tourism


Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

Entered by:

BBC Global News

Abu Dhabi unwrapped

The Challenge

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) re-approached BBC Story Works, following two previous Abu Dhabi Unwrapped campaigns they had run on the BBC, with a challenge to position the city as a ‘top-of-mind’ holiday destination, building both reach and a strong emotional connection with the audience.  Google Proprietary Research by the client in 2019 had highlighted perceptions of Abu Dhabi country by country. For example, Germany was strong in awareness but low for consideration/intent. There were also opportunities; for example, the client had seen an increase in business travellers from India making leisure stopovers. This campaign needed to address these different challenges per market but bring everything together into one series of films.

The campaign also needed to address common misconceptions, such as the belief that Abu Dhabi is a place of just high-end shopping centres and plush resorts, which is not true. Also that it has little or no culture, which is not true.  The audience segmentation identified by Abu Dhabi showed a need to target culture vultures, luxury lovers and elite status business travellers, amongst others – all segments BBC World News and reaches.

The Creative Solution

BBC StoryWorks created three short films (each around 3 mins) that could run as 30-second cut-down ads on BBC World News, alongside the full films running with a wealth of additional content on The Abu Dhabi Unwrapped campaign title was kept for the third year, meaning the BBC could create new films and articles, and refresh a library of older campaign content.

The theme this time was culture. Analytics from Abu Dhabi Unwrapped 2.0 has shown this was the strongest area for CTR and the creative arts are a strong passion point for the BBC audience. Everything would be location led, so it would feel like a tourism campaign, but the locations would be shown through a cultural ‘lens’.  The films focused on three pillars; art, photography and architecture. They told stories of three protagonists. One was Afra Al Dhaheri, an artist who returns to the Cultural Foundation, where she learnt calligraphy as a student. She then shows us the art gallery Warehouse 421, the District 10 coffee shop, famous for its poetry nights, and Abu Dhabi Art Fair.

Photographer Tarek Al-Ghoussein is interested in nature and documenting every one of the 250 islands in the archipelago of Abu Dhabi. He takes photographs of the giraffes on Sir Bani Yas Island, moves to Ras Ghurab Island where he takes tea with a skipper, stands on an unspoilt beach and photographs interesting buildings. Finally, we meet Rafael Viñoly, an architect who combined traditional and modern elements to design the New York University Abu Dhabi campus. He visits the university to reflect on his work before taking a car ride through the city, passing the Zayed Bridge, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Watched individually or as a series, the films tackled misconceptions, touching upon fearless, experimental artists, varied landscapes and exciting, fast-paced construction – all designed to shift from raising awareness to improving consideration with the BBC audience. The aim was to make viewers want to explore the city and Abu Dhabi’s art for themselves.  The digital hub included three new long-read articles, expanding on the pillars, and new image galleries. The articles from previous campaigns covering adventure, entertainment, health, history, family, art, cuisine and nature were also available, as were some older interactive features. This allowed users to build an ideal itinerary and discover ‘What’s your perfect Abu Dhabi escape?’

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

The three 30-second cut-downs of the longer films ran on BBC World News TV, 174 times across the Europe feed and 539 times across the Asia feed. BBC used traffic drivers across to drive visits to the Abu Dhabi Unwrapped hub and deliver 27.9m impressions. A data management platform meant BBC could target travel and culture fans in the USA, India, Germany and China. was an important way to drive audiences to the content; DCT Abu Dhabi had a buyout of the navigation bar on the travel site (linking to their own website), with tra􀃞c drivers pointing towards the Abu Dhabi Unwrapped content hub positioned here too.

Facebook and Instagram campaigns (channels chosen for being great for visual content and able to showcase the videos) were similarly able to reach audiences interested in art, architecture and photography, and be geo-targeted. In addition, DCT Abu Dhabi promoted the campaign via their own social media platforms, and the three contributors were encouraged to share on their social media too.

The Result

The hub on was the top-performing branded content campaign for generating traffic in March 2020. Average dwell time on the site was up year-on-year from 108 to 203 seconds, with 75% of users reaching 50-75% scroll depth down the page, well above the standard BBC figure. 20% of visits to the hub were return visits, against a benchmark of 5%. The library of older content from previous campaigns attracted interest too. These articles resulted in an additional 3500 page views. The social media campaign generated over 13.2m video views and over 1.2m clicks, with the most tra􀃞c from the preferred regions; India, the US and Germany.

AdScore results showed significant uplifts across key brand metrics, including ‘is safe to visit’ (+70%) and ‘has cultural heritage’ (+46%). The likelihood of recommending Abu Dhabi increased by 61% amongst BBC consumers, and positivity towards the city experienced a 76% uplift. Awareness of Abu Dhabi had a 12% uplift in terms of overall familiarity, and the likelihood of considering visiting increased by 64%.

Jacquelyn Sit, Destination Advertising Lead for DCT Abu Dhabi said “The tonality and structure of each film match with BBC audience groups and give a great overview of Abu Dhabi. The final videos used storytelling and showed different elements of the Emirate from a variety of perspectives, which definitely helped make them really engaging.”  Social media reaction to the videos included“great to see the role of young artists in Abu Dhabi”, “I’ve never heard about this place”, “looks like a dream, would love to go”, and “one day I’ll be here in this very place and see all that.”