Qatar’s first global marketing campaign, which launched in late 2018, aims to position the country as an attractive tourism destination offering unique travel experiences. The campaign, titled “Qatar. Qurated for You” is the brainchild of Grid Worldwide on behalf of Qatar’s National Tourism Council. 

Rolled out to 15 priority target markets across the world, the campaign is currently running in eight languages across a variety of platforms including TV, print, digital and out of home, and aims to reach 250-million people. 

More than merely an advertising campaign, Qurated aims to introduce international travellers to the many authentic experiences the country has to offer and to position Qatar among the top five travel and tourism destinations globally.

This positioning campaign is not the agency’s first experience of working with Qatar. It created a brand for the Qatar Tourism Authority in 2014 and was then requested to pitch on the positioning campaign for the country in 2017. Although the original brief called merely for a reworked logo and identity, Grid advised that in order to change perceptions of the country as a destination it required a complete repositioning. 

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

“Qatar is a fascinating country,” says Grid CEO Adam Byars. “It has bucked many of the typical conventions of a Middle Eastern country and has implemented a number of initiatives to grow its tourism infrastructure and deliver world-class tourism experiences. It has dropped visa requirements for 80 countries, including SA, making it, according to Forbes magazine, the most accessible country in the Middle East. In addition, the country has made significant investments into infrastructure, including the development of eight state-of-the-art stadiums in preparation of hosting the 2022 Fifa World Cup.”

During the development of the positioning for Qatar, Grid sought to communicate the essence of the country. The agency distilled this into a philosophy that embraces the past to inform the future: “by warmth of soul” – a concept which embraces the country’s history and heritage – coupled with “spirit of vision”. 

Grid sought to disrupt conventional tourism destination drivers through a rigorous strategic process to identify key proof points it believes will attract visitors to the country. These proof points have been overlaid with iconic attractions found only in the country to bring the essence of the Qatar experience into the spotlight. 

Renowned photographer Erik Almas was commissioned to capture a series of photographs of these attractions, including Souq Waqif, Doha’s oldest market; the Museum of Islamic Art, which features 1,500 years of Islamic art; Khor Al Adaid inland sea, straddling the border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia; the National Museum of Qatar, whose design suggests the interlocking pattern of the desert rose; the Doha Corniche, a waterfront promenade which extends for 7km; the Doha skyline; and minimalist sculptor Richard Serra’s East-West/West-East sculpture found in the Brouq nature reserve. Almas’s photographs have been featured extensively in the campaign’s print and out-of- home advertising material. 

Qatar, says Byars, targets specific tourism markets, and via a detailed strategic process Grid sought to understand what tourists in these markets look for when they travel. American travellers, for example, seek adventure experiences, while British travellers are more interested in the hospitality and gastronomy offers. These insights were then overlaid onto the key proof points to create country-specific advertising. 

The campaign’s first television commercial showcased a handful of Qatar’s most iconic tourism attractions. Its second campaign, grounded in the same positioning of Qurated, was launched in February on Qatar’s National Sports Day and features one of the world’s leading soccer teams, French-based Paris Saint-Germain, with which the Qatari tourism council has a strategic partnership. Focusing on the team’s annual winter training session in Doha, the commercial, titled “Where the best get better”, features the players training in extreme desert conditions, in state-of-the-art training and rehabilitation facilities, and at the sea. 

Ten key words have been identified, all of which speak to the essence of Qatar in some way, and in each word the letter “O” has been replaced by a “Q”. 

The big take-out

Placing culture before communication, Grid has developed a global destination marketing campaign for Qatar that is disrupting conventional tourism destination drivers.

“Our focus is on creating brands that have both purpose and meaning,” says chief creative officer and Grid co-founder Nathan Reddy. “Our challenge with this campaign was to ensure that what is essentially a tourism brand plays a role in popular culture and not only breaks through the clutter but also disrupts this space.”

While the campaign is still in its infancy, it has already captured the imagination of Qataris, who have begun to use the word “Qurated” in their everyday lives, saying something is “Qurated” to indicate that it is beautiful or considered, says Byars. “We’ve become very invested in Qatar, and we’re hugely passionate about this country and this particular campaign,” he says.

The agency, adds Reddy, is proud of what it has achieved for the National Tourism Council. “Driven by extensive insights we have been able to create work that we believe resonates with the target audience and that successfully places culture before communication,” he says.