Droga5 Quiddiya

Qiddiya City, Saudi Arabia’s ‘city of play’, launches via ad campaign

While Qiddya City is still under construction, the ad by Droga5 offers a dynamic take on what a city devoted to entertainment might feel like

The ad is directed by Ian Pons Jewell and Nick Roney, who bring their signature brand of surreal humour to bear on the unusual film.

It opens with an all-too-familiar vision of play as we often know it, with scenes of overly packed stadiums, average mechanical toys outside shopping centres, and decrepit swimming pools. This mood doesn’t last long though as suddenly footballers, rollercoaster riders and video gamers alike find themselves drawn by an uncontrollable force to the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

The ad is a launch platform for Qiddiya City and takes an unconventional approach – there are no gleaming new buildings on show (in fact, the ‘players’ arrive to what looks like a hole in the ground but presumably holds magical treasures just out of sight) and instead it is focused on building excitement rather than offering a big reveal.

“Our approach was simple: to try and capture the insanity of a city built around play,” says Pons Jewell. “The idea of an F1 track intertwined with a rollercoaster that snakes through office buildings has a fantastic and surreal quality we wanted to capture on film. We aimed to be as playful as possible, looking for moments of humour and personality to inject into the playthings’ journey. The only way to get into the right headspace was to travel to set everyday via bowling ball.”

The new city is part of Saudi Vision 2030, an ambitious plan to transform the country, with the focus of Qiddiya City on sports and entertainment. This also ties into the country’s recent vast investment in international sports (which has led to accusations of ‘sportswashing’ to distract attention from Saudi Arabia’s human rights record).

The film is supported by an OOH campaign shot by Wade Brothers and 3D billboards developed in partnership with ETC studios, which extend the Play Life theme.

Agency: Droga5/Accenture Song
CCO: Shelley Smoler
Creative Directors: David Dearlove, Pete Heyes, Aziza Abid
Creatives: Andy Lockley, Asmaa Mohamed Akram, Talal Haj Ali Bek
Head of Design: Stephanie McArdle
Design Director: Craig Atkinson
Senior Designers: Oli East, Hannah Stewart
Designer: Alice Galli
Director: Ian Pons Jewell, Nick Roney
Production Company: ProdCo
Director of Photography: Erik Messerschmidt
VFX Company : Black Kite
VFX Supervisor: Adam Crocker
VFX Lead: Guillaume Weiss
CG Leads: Dan Moore, Milen Piskuliyski
Edit: Final Cut
Editor: Sam Bould
Post Sound: String & Tins
Sound Design and Mix: Will Cohen
Sound Design: Lawrence Kendrick
Post Production: Wellcom / Dippin’ Sauce Londo
Photographers: The Wade Brothers
VFX Company: Electric Theatre Collective