Opportunistic or inspiring? Four car firms celebrate women driving in Saudi Arabia

PRWeek looks at four carmakers' films that celebrate the ending of a ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia - and asks whether they get the tone right?

The first three films below (from Audi, Jaguar and Ford) were published this month, ahead of 24 June, the day on which the ban was lifted. The final one, from Nissan, went live in January and won a Gold Lion in the CSR segment of the PR Lions last week.

Audi - Sometimes history is written. This time, it is driven

Ford - With you in front

Jaguar - World driving day with Aseel Al Hamad

Nissan Saudi Arabia Surprises Saudi Women

Verdicts

PRWeek sought opinion from one corporate PR professional, and another specialising in automotives.

Aimee Postle, director of automotive and envirotech agency Prova, said: "Each of the films has been crafted to appreciate the highly emotive underlying message. Tasteful, supportive and unashamedly humbling, branding and semiotics are seemingly lost as an afterthought.

"Whether timely or opportunistic, it’s clear they celebrate progress. Not success, but progress."

Oliver Foster, CEO of Pagefield, praised the films, in particular calling Audi's film "powerful" and noting its "determined" tone, "suggesting that this is a start rather than an end".

On Nissan's Lions win, he noted: "I can see why - it is a touching and surprisingly open tribute to the day-to-day reality of family relationships in what is a very private and traditional society. But it also feels like it reinforces that tradition somewhat - rather than be given freedom, women are still being instructed, nearly driven, by their guardians."

"These campaigns are totally opportunistic, but show me an advertiser who doesn’t take advantage of any kind of interesting societal change in this way. There is nothing wrong with this at all... they’re using their significant advertising and marketing power to help that change along and to help make sure it is an irreversible step along the way to more fundamental organic and political reform. That deserves credit, not criticism."

Read next: Another change in Nissan comms team as global VP departs

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