Discover more from Good TikTok Creative
Issue #123 - NEOM on TikTok
Make sure you subscribe to receive new updates!
Welcome to Good TikTok Creative!
TikTok Case Study = NEOM
When we think of TikTok and propaganda we think of China - right? The way that the Saudi government are promoting their futuristic city Neom hovers on the line between PR and propaganda. But it's a good example of how people can use the platform in a very different way to the usual creator led activity we cover.
Neom is a new build city, spread across an area of 10000 square miles - about the size of Belgium. The project is the brainchild of Saudi’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.
There are 3 elements - a floating city called The Oxagon, a travel destination in the mountains called Trojena and The Line - a city built within two adjacent 500m high towers that are both 170km long.
For something most people have never heard of, there is a lot of content on TikTok. #Neom has 1.3 Billion views, #theline has 650 Million and variations on these have millions more.
Many of the most popular posts are from an account called BusinessLoop. With 2m likes most of their content is about futuristic projects - but their big views seem to be on Saudi projects - including Pangeos the Tera-Yacht - a massive turtle shaped super yacht that will house up to 60,000 people.
BusinessLoop exists on TikTok and YouTube but its website has no content. The organic reach on most of their content is low so these multi-million view videos are clearly supported by ad buys. So is it an independent account or just a tool for distributing.
The content is all futurist videos - looking more like a minecraft or metaverse scenes - and I suspect work has yet to start. The FT describe the project as dystopia portrayed as Utopia but even if this is all PR designed to position MBS as a leader it highlights the role TikTok can play.
If you look at the success of Dubai to build interest amongst the young you can see why TikTok is such a key element of their marketing.
NEOM is a ridiculously ambitious new development project coming from the Saudi Arabian government. You may have heard about it - most notably, ‘The Line’ is a 170-kilometer long smart city that looks like something straight out of a sci-fi film. The Line is only one part of NEOM, a new 10,200 square mile smart city outfitted with different developments and with an estimated cost of $500 Billion, all powered by renewable energy.
NEOM is planned to be completed by 2030, but many people are skeptical about the degree to which the project will be able to succeed. This is for two reasons. The first reason is the sheer scale of the project - NEOM may be the biggest, most ambitious construction project we will see in our lifetime. Since we have never seen anything like it, it’s easy for us to think this is a project of overreach and hubris, that likely will not come to fruition. As I’m not anything close to an engineer, architect, or urban planner, I have no idea how realistic it is for NEOM to be completed.
The second reason people are skeptical about NEOM has more to do with marketing and communications. Let’s face it - the PR or ‘brand’ of Saudi Arabia is not great. The country, or more accurately—its government—has been accused of several human rights abuses and is a generally controversial geopolitical player. That said, for the well-intentioned people behind the marketing of NEOM, they have turned to TikTok in order to face that challenge.
It’s simultaneously surreal and in my opinion effective to see some of the NEOM ads and video creative. There’s a mixture of funny ads showing people across different nationalities and ethnicities trying to pronounce ‘NEOM,’ which sets the tone of something like a CPG snack brand trying to appeal to a global audience. There are lighthearted videos, again showing a diverse set of actors, restating the value proposition as people are confused and need to understand what NEOM is, all falling under the hashtag #WhatIsNEOM.
The NEOM TikTok profile has 623K followers but their videos don’t seem to be getting too many views. Some of their most successful videos highlight the partnership between NEOM and McLaren for Formula-E and the NEOM 2022 Year in Review, which functions as a sort of highlight reel for the project. In a way, you could say that the primary ‘Hero’ content seems to be doing well as big, flashy creative.
I’m not sure if NEOM will look exactly as it has been portrayed or if it will be completed on schedule by 2030. I’m personally very interested in seeing how NEOM turns out. And of course, the Saudi government will be more than willing to spend more money on building out content to keep NEOM top of mind for the next few years. If they want to reach young audiences especially, they should keep using TikTok.
The Good TikTok Creative Survey
We are interested in getting your feedback on Good TikTok Creative in order to improve the newsletter! Please fill out the 2-min survey here!
If you liked reading this, feel free to click the ❤️ button on this post so more people can discover it on Substack. 🙏