In a welcome but long-overdue reform announcement, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman decreed that women in the kingdom would finally be permitted to drive vehicles themselves, starting in June of 2018.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take very long for automakers to jump at the opportunity to market to a fresh segment of consumers, with the Ford Motor Company being one of the first and most clever on the scene with a specifically targeted advertisement.
According to the Detroit Metro Times, Ford Middle East — headquartered in Dubai — expressed their support for the move and “solidarity” with Saudi women with a striking yet simple ad on their Twitter platform.
That ad featured a stunning pair of women’s eyes framed by a rearview mirror that was completely surrounded by darkness, obviously symbolizing the traditional head and face coverings Saudi women are compelled to wear. The copy simply stated, “Welcome to the driver’s seat.”
Nor was Ford alone in swiftly targeting the emerging market of women drivers in Saudi Arabia, according to Mashable, as many other automakers also produced targeted ads — though few were quite as clever as the one put out by Ford.
Indeed, in less than a week since the announcement was made, there have been special ads produced by Cadillac, Kia, Land Rover, Nissan, and Volkswagen aimed at Saudi women.
To be sure, the ads were not without some controversy, as of course the whole idea of women driving has been denounced by fundamentalist Islamists.
Even the specific ad from Ford was alleged to have been lifted from a similarly-styled ad put out several years ago by an ad agency in Dubai that has been pushing for the long-sought change to Saudi customs, according to Adweek.
Regardless, we think it is pretty cool. Now, if the Saudis would also go ahead and relax their strict rules on male “guardianship” for women outside the home, or their proscription against wearing anything other than their traditional burka and niqab, we may really see some progress.