The core customers for trucks in the GCC are Gulf nationals, aged 18-30. City dwellers though they may be, their identity is defined by the traditions of their Bedouin desert heritage. More than just a passion, exploring the desert is their lifestyle choice. It’s how they reconnect with their roots.
Trucks therefore serve a dual purpose in the lives of this audience: daily leisure vehicles that are also highly capable of taking them back to the desert.
The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado had strong competitors particularly in the Ford F150 and GMC Sierra, and needed to strengthen its positioning as the truck of choice in the minds of its core target.
The problem was that Gulf nationals, particularly the target 18-30 segment, have traditionally been hard to reach. Mass media campaigns don’t always resonate with them and their consumption preferences (in fashion, food and sport and media), are often influenced by niche brands and trends or peer recommendations which reflect exclusivity or help them stand out.
They cluster together in specific areas and at specific events, and have a strong sense of what identifies with their world and what doesn’t.
But Initiative Media knew the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado would be a perfect match for their lifestyle; a powerful combination of leisure styling and off road ability. Its challenge was to cement that association at launch, by demonstrating alignment to the audience’s tastes in an authentic manner.
The agency wondered if there was a brand or experience that represented the best of the city life but that was struggling to forge a desert tradition. If it could partner with them to unexpectedly replicate the city experience in the desert, it would have proved the Silverado’s performance and lifestyle claims in one fell swoop.
SALT is an example of such a brand. Launched in 2014 by two women from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it has rapidly grown from humble beginnings as Dubai’s first food truck selling burgers on a beach out of an Airstream van to a viral phenomenon with over 115k social media fans and celebrity customers including Dubai’s Crown Prince His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.
The way a global icon (burgers) has been replicated with a twist by local entrepreneurs and taken off is synonymous with much that the Middle East represents and that the nationals have become used to: the best of the world, tailored locally. It’s exactly how an American icon such as the Chevy truck has gone from a heavy duty workhorse in Middle America to a power off roader in the Middle East.
As Time Out magazine’s ‘Food Truck of the Year’ it is a firm hit among young, male Gulf nationals, who make up 60% of their customers...the very people Initiative Media wanted to get the Silverado in front of!
But a burger van should have no place in the desert; and by SALT’s own admission its single beach-side location has always limited its ability to serve fans in the desert despite multiple requests.
Suddenly, the gauntlet had been thrown down: if the Silverado could deliver on this challenge and take SALT into the desert, it had the perfect partnership.
The annual Moreeb Dune Festival is a 10 day desert event located on the border of the UAE and Saudi Arabia; the Monaco GP or Dakar Rally of desert events.
Over 200,000 off road enthusiasts, primarily GCC nationals, congregate at the festival in the ultimate off road endurance test, drag racing trucks, bikes and buggies on the 300m high, 1.6km long, 50 degree sheer face of one of the largest hill climbs in the world.
Accessible by a single lane road snaking through the desert up 30 degree hills and round sharp bends, the route to the festival is not for the faint hearted, and even more daunting for a vehicle in tow.
Yet it foraged onwards; hooking up a four tonne Airstream loaded with enough ingredients for 22,000 co-branded #TruckerBurger’s (created by SALT in honour of our partnership) to the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado.
The brand’s hero negotiated the treacherous five hour drive into the desert with minimal fuss, landing itself in the middle of its core audience at the biggest desert festival in the region.
The attraction of SALT and the exclusive #TruckerBurger (available only at the Moreeb Dune festival) drew in the crowds; the Silverado delivered their favourite burger to them and whilst sampling the unique creation, hundreds of young GCC nationals also got to experience the Silverado off-road, in a way they would never normally have been able to.
The event was an unqualified success; fans flocked to the Silverado in their hundreds, and the #TruckerBurger was a sell out every night.
It secured a staggering 280 leads for Chevrolet dealers around the region, with a potential sales value of $15.2m.
Fans started to demand Chevrolet take SALT to around the region so they too could sample the #TruckerBurger. This was the perfect opportunity to extend the partnership whilst staying true to Chevrolet’s brand promise: “Find New Roads”.
Over the course of four months the agency explored five new locations in three cities and two spontaneous desert events where SALT was exclusive caterer.
Led by its Instagram page, Chevrolet Arabia’s social media audience increased by 1,000%, driven by the new fans that saw the Silverado as the truck for them.
The partnership also helped SALT secure new business opportunities; it opened two new permanent venues in locations Chevrolet visited as a direct result of customer feedback from its visits.