Hyundai Celebrates Saudi Arabia's First, and Future, Female Drivers

Where will the road take them next?

In early June, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia issued its first driver's licenses to women. On June 24, the ban on women drivers was lifted. It's a small thing—but in Saudi Arabia, it fundamentally changes what feels possible tomorrow, even as it alters what's normal today. 

That same day, Hyundai launched #WhatsNext. The campaign video, which came out Aug. 1, nods to women taking the driver's seat while citing the value we bring when we can contribute more freely within our cultures. 

It's called "Welcome to the Driver's Seat" and was created by Jung-von-Matt/Neckar.

Welcome to the Driver’s Seat

"We designed our campaign based on the unlimited potential that is being introduced to Saudi women now that they have freedom in mobility," says Wonhong Cho, global chief marketing officer of Hyundai Motor Company. "Hyundai Motor will continue its support for not only Saudi women, but all millennial women throughout the world, who are becoming one of our most important main consumers."

"Welcome to the Driver's Seat" follows a Saudi woman as she walks down the allegorical paths available to her: fashion designer, movie director, teacher, track star. She finishes, of course, behind the wheel of a Hyundai. The video ends with the words, "Now it's time to let the real journey begin." 

#WhatsNext is a local market campaign bearing what the agency hopes is a progressive spirit that anyone can relate to. Offline supports include a "City Store" in Riyadh, with a digital showroom and snazzy devices geared to women. An expanded customer experience program will avail test-drives and an app for onboarding beginner drivers. 

Like most cultural disruptions, the lift of the female driver ban hasn't been perfect. At least 10 prominent activists, mostly women's rights campaigners, were arrested just before the passage of the new law.

And even amid celebration of newfound freedoms, at least one woman interviewed by the Guardian simply said, "This is not the time to be defying anyone. What I think is not important." 

That is a sad thing to hear, especially when, from a Western perspective, milestones like this one feel painfully slow. But even in the West we continue to fight battles that should be long over. Argentina notably just squashed a bill to legalize abortion by the frustratingly narrow margin of 38 to 31, with two abstentions. (Closer to home, we're barely out of the dark.)

But back to the video. The press release that accompanied it describes the narrative voice as "calm and reserved," and the woman herself as "classy, yet eager to take on whatever her heart desires." These descriptions are triggers that invite questions about how a woman might be read if an authority hadn't described her thus. Hysterical, maybe? Trashy? 

It's a conservative approach for a conservative country, a covering of bases to make the woman herself feel palatable to others so the ad can do its job of addressing women generally. This can be felt in the video itself, which drifts dreamily from scene to scene, almost like a fairy tale.

Even when progress feels slow, it is still progress. The biggest takeaway for any audience, Saudi or not, may well be that if we want things to move along more quickly, it's up to us to hit the gas.

Client: Hyundai Motor Company
Agency: Jung von Matt/Neckar
Art Director: Anna Rondolino
Creative Director: Anna Rondolino, Brendan Gallahue, Matthias Hess
Copywriter: Brendan Gallahue, Jasmin Scharrer
Account Executive: Marco Schubert, Kelsey Gühring, Karen Kustermann
Agency Producer: Darek Stöhr
Artwork: Andreas Kleinmann
Styling: Susanne Kreyenfeld, Meriem Lebdiri
Director: Philippe André
Director of Photography: David Ungaro
Production Company: Markenfilm, Hamburg
Executive Producer: Johannes Bittel
Producer: Harald Beelte
Production Designer: Bader al-Hindi / Markenfilm Hamburg
Edit Company: Final Cut London & Markenfilm Hamburg
Editor: Adam Rudd , Moritz Dreifke
Grade: The Mill, London
Sound Design: Audioforce
Post Production: Infected, Hamburg
Track/Artist: Harrat al-Birk / audioforce
The Musical Composition: audioforce
Publisher: audioforce Berlin / Thomas Suess

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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