How TikTok and NEOM brought the vision of the 'THE LINE' to life with user-generated content
Destination marketing has always relied heavily on demonstration. Showcasing the project, and the people living in it and exploring its different aspects and benefits. But when it comes to a mega destination that hasn't yet seen the light to execution, bridging the gap between the grand vision on one side, and the project's early stage of development on the other, is a hefty challenge. So how did NEOM succeed in driving a global conversation around its futuristic mega destination THE LINE?
After all, there's only so much that can be said when the conversation is one-sided and when a destination relies purely on its own branded content to bring its vision to life. What differentiated NEOM is its creative approach, which took the viewers from the current status quo and transported them into the NEOM vision. This inspired creators from all over the world to pick up the story and share it in their own style and from their own perspective. They've done so on a platform where inspiring content can take a life on its own and reach unprecedented heights when it engages with the wider community: TikTok.
The TikTok campaign for THE LINE succeeded in gathering the support of 400+ different creators across over 10 markets, turning them into storytellers bringing NEOM's vision to life creatively, with THE LINE gathering 500+ million views to date. That's because people come to TikTok for three main reasons: To get entertained, informed, and inspired. In fact, according to a 2022 study conducted by Marketcast, 61% come to the platform for inspiration, 52% to be informed/learn something new, and 65% come to the platform to be entertained.
And NEOM seeded the conversation with content that balanced these three needs.
NEOM started by distilling down its messaging to the project's essence. What it really stands for, and not what it's selling. The story of THE LINE was crafted around a forward-facing outlook for humanity and what the future of urban living could mean for today's population and future generations. By transporting the community into an ultra-futuristic vision through realistic visuals, NEOM inspired creators from all around the world to talk about the most pressing challenges for today's societies, with NEOM and THE LINE at the center of the conversation. The branded content was the source of inspiration, effectively turning creators into the voice of inspiration.
It then moved to informing and educating the audience: It turned the announcement of THE LINE into information-packed pieces of content that people actually want to share and discuss. Through realistic renders and well-crafted storytelling, NEOM brought a massive vision down to the level of the day-to-day tangible aspects of the vision: Water desalination is shown as a viable solution to urban-development urban development in an arid area. A city built around public transportation and not the other way around puts an end to global challenges that range from pollution to time-wasting commutes. A town where leisure, business, and environment don't compete against each other but exist in symbiosis. By turning the project's features into interesting and informative conversations, NEOM effectively got creators from all backgrounds to contribute to the discourse.
While the branded content was both informative and inspirational, it even became entertaining when it was picked-informative and inspirational, it became entertaining when it was picked up by creators that appeal to different audiences and communities. This was where the messaging got augmented and re-interpreted in different styles, and languages, and through different perspectives, taking it way beyond NEOM's core existing community on the platform audience.
In the image above: Odai M. Marie, Head of Social Media for NEOM
"TikTok is built around community and culture, and it is more powerful than other platforms in that it cultivates deep audience engagement and endorsement through creator-led content. THE LINE is an audacious architectural and urban concept -almost hard to believe for some, therefore, creators played an essential role in convincing a global audience that it was possible through straightforward, bite-sized explainer content which delivered significant earned conversations and organic engagement with NEOM.” says, Odai M. Marie, Head of Social Media for NEOM
By seeing its core brand messaging scale with creators and communities, NEOM witnessed its brand narrative turn into becoming the enabler of a global conversation that transcends cultural, linguistic, and geographical borders. It effectively turned the key features of the project into catalysts for content creation, resulting in a massive global conversation around a project not yet experienced by anyone.
More than 4,000 organic videos were created worldwide, gathering 500+ Million video views and revolving around a story that will soon become a reality.