Shell Asked Saudi Men About Women Taking the Wheel, and the Result Is Quite Lovely

'Women helped drive entire generations'

Saudi men reflect on the women in their lives in this ad from M&C Saatchi Dubai. Shell
Headshot of David Griner

This month is a momentous and divisive one for Saudi Arabia, with women being issued driver’s licenses for the first time since a prohibition  against female drivers was issued in the 1950s.

So far, a small number of women—10 nationwide on Monday, according to the BBC—have received Saudi driver’s licenses in exchange for their foreign licenses, but the government anticipates 2,000 women will apply for licenses once the ban is officially lifted June 24.

In the time leading up to that key date, Shell filmed a video with five Saudi men from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, then asked them their thoughts on women getting the right to drive. Several of the men clearly have reservations, mostly from a sense of wanting to protect the women they love from the dangers of the road.

But after those initial caveats and concerns, the video shifts in a heartwarming direction, complete with an enjoyable and emotional twist at the end.

The ad is reminiscent of a Nissan ad from earlier this year, when women found out their driving instructors would be the fathers, husbands and other men in their lives, helping bring them together in a supportive (if occasionally stressful) way.

Created by M&C Saatchi Dubai, the Shell spot has generated an astounding 3.6 million views since being published in May.

However, it’s clear there’s not a universal agreement with the ad’s message of celebrating social progress. The YouTube video has an equal number of thumbs up as thumbs down, and while the debate in the comments is overwhelmingly in Arabic, making it tough to follow for those of us who don’t speak the language, there’s an obvious rift between those who see this legal change as a threat to tradition and those who see it as a cause for celebration.

Client: Shell Helix KSA
Shell – Cluster Planning & Projects Manager (Cluster Marketing Support): Hisham Medhat
Shell – Cluster Marketing Projects Specialist (Project Lead): Meytha Almutawaa
Shell – JOSLOC Marketing Manager: Sherif El Gohary
Shell – JOSLOC Marketing Executive: Mohamed Elagamawi
Production House: Boomtown Productions
Director: Karim Shaaban
DOP: Crispin Kennedy Dominic
Music: Khaled Al Kammar
Agency: M&C Saatchi Dubai
Chief Creative Officer: Ryan Reed
Creative Director: Jed Dawson
Associate Creative Director: Ben Lees
Senior Art Director: Michael Habib
Senior Arabic Writer: Karim Zein
Senior Account Director: Liesl Reed
Account Director: Deven Uchil
Account Manager: Sara Kader

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: June 5, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT