Once, in a job interview, Daniah Al Aoudah was told she didn’t belong in the advertising world because she was a Saudi national. That comment was enough to propel this determined, young creative professional to pursue a career in the industry.
Through her seminar at Dubai Lynx, Daniah, now Conceptual Arabic Copywriter at J. Walter Thompson KSA in Riyadh, looked to change the long held stereotypical views about Saudi nationals, by making it a topic of discussion. In her talk, she highlighted how she, and many other Saudi creatives like her, are breaking down those myopic visions, not just in the advertising domain but across all fields of creativity in the Kingdom.
Daniah went on to explain that although the social norms in the country – which many people around the world are aware of – are abided by, by everyone living in the Kingdom, the savvy Saudi creative can work around those cultural nuances and create game-changing work.
Many people might think that Saudi creatives – especially copywriters – are hired simply for translation work, but the fact of the matter is, if you tap into their knowledge and potential, they can be key players in delivering innovative communication. Like other creatives, the Saudi creative represents a unique combination of mindsets and values; on the one hand, they are the conceptualizer of campaign ideas bringing to life a brand’s vision and mission with impact; and on the other, they are also the brand’s consumer.
Daniah went on to caution that some people claim to be creating entirely new work for Saudi Arabia – but in her opinion and in the opinion of other Saudis like her, really, they are still working within the confines of a stereotypical Saudi box, albeit it a new, sugarcoated box that bedazzles some with its adornments.
At J. Walter Thompson KSA, however, the creatives have deliberately avoided the perceived limitations, creating work that challenges or changes the way Saudis think about themselves, while at the same time making sure to offend neither the culture nor its people.
Daniah’s work is often humorous because contrary to belief, Saudis appreciate a good joke, a pun or a witty line that delivers on a much deeper meaning, like “A Woman for Every Saudi,” JWT KSA’s award winning campaign for VW. Her work, like “The Biggest Art Gallery in the World,” an award-winning campaign for Al Arabia, also leverages artistic expression. And her work, like “Unveil Saudi” for Saudi Telecom Company, has reminded Saudis themselves of the outstanding natural beauty and diversity in their own country.