The world flocks to Qiddiya City, looking to play, in epic spot from Droga5 and Accenture Song

The playground city is part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to revolutionize its economy via tourism and infrastructure development

Published On
Feb 01, 2024
People on couches and chairs and a man prostrate with a bowling ball race down a road

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Saudi Arabia is in the midst of reinventing itself as a tourism mecca, with Qiddiya City, styled as “the world’s first city built for play,” among the nation’s flagship projects. Now, a fast-paced campaign has launched that shows fans of play the world over flocking to the purpose-built entertainment district outside Riyadh.

Until recently, Saudi Arabia was not a premier destination for leisure travelers—and that’s how they wanted it. The modern-day country’s founder, King Ibn Saud, is believed to have once said: “My Kingdom will survive only insofar as it remains a country difficult to access, where the foreigner will have no other aim, with his task fulfilled, but to get out.”

Times have changed. In 2018, Saudi Arabia began issuing tourist visas and openly welcoming non-religious global visitors for the first time in its history, as part of Saudi Vision 2030—a long-term plan to diversify the country’s economy and social structure by advancing women’s rights, hosting major sporting events and green-lighting ambitious megaprojects such as The Line.

Entertainment district Qiddiya City, the subject of a new marketing effort from Droga5 and Accenture Song, is just one piece of that massive investment puzzle, and it’s getting the royal launch campaign treatment this month—with “Play Life,” a multichannel push in which athletes, gamers, race spectators and theme park-goers are all magically drawn to the 360-square-kilometer playground in the desert west of Riyadh.

The ad was shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt.


“It’s not every day that you get to launch not only a mere product, but an entire city,” said Shelley Smoler, chief creative officer at Droga5 London. “Add to that a city that is a playground, that doesn’t limit playtime to designated times or areas, and you have that magical brief that comes around once in a lifetime.” 

Viewers may notice that while the climax of the ad shows people from around the globe converging on the edge of a cliff—contextually implied to be overlooking Qiddiya—the city itself isn’t shown at all. That’s because it’s still being built.

Eventually planned to be home to some 600,000 residents once fully operational, at least $2.6 billion worth of contracts have been awarded to develop Qiddiya, industry publication Construction Week reports, with the site’s “first assets” set to open gradually over the next two years.

But while its F1 circuit, Six Flags theme park and tens of thousands of buildings are still a long way from completion, that hasn’t stopped Qiddiya’s developers from moving full steam ahead with its launch campaign, which debuted at the start of 2024.

Featuring a slew of unique broadcast TV, cinema and social media elements, “Play Life” will enjoy a significant international run not just in Saudi Arabia and its Mideast neighbors, but throughout a dozen major global markets such as the U.S., U.K., Germany, India, China and Japan.

Additionally, the work will boast digital display and out-of-home placements—including 3D billboards—at high-profile sites around the world, with full-blown takeovers planned for the likes of Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing and the 82 connected screens that line Riyadh Boulevard in the Saudi capital.


Feb 01, 2024
Client :
Qiddiya City
Agency :
Agency :
Accenture Song
Managing Director :
Abdullah Aldawood
Advisor :
Ross McAuley
Executive Brand Advisor :
Anthony Dalton
Senior Manager Branding :
Dima Malibary
Assistant Manager Brand :
Hend Youssef
Senior Manager Marketing :
Laila Alomran
Shelley Smoler
Creative Director :
David Dearlove
Creative Director :
Pete Heyes
Creative Director :
Aziza Abid
Writer :
Andy Lockley
Copywriter :
Asmaa Mohamed Akram
Copywriter :
Talal Haj Ali Bek
Head of Design :
Stephanie McArdle
Design Director :
Craig Atkinson
Senior Designer :
Oli East
Senior Designer :
Hannah Stewart
Designer :
Alice Galli
Head of Production :
Peter Montgomery
Senior Producer :
Charlie Orr
Senior Stills Producer :
Katerina Gharraph
Junior Producer :
Olly West
Damien Le Castrec
Strategy Director :
Pete Heskett
Strategy Director :
Kabelo Lehlongwane
Strategist :
Sanaa Choudhry
Executive Group Account Director :
Sharif El Rabiey
Senior Account Director :
Tom Elias
Account Director :
Jazz Brell
Account Supervisor :
Sara Abdulkader
Senior Account Manager :
Georgia Holgate
Project Director :
Amanda Poulter
Head of Studio :
Tim Larke
Producer :
Paul Millar
Motion Designer :
Rob Wicksteed
Artworker :
Paul Callaby
Artworker :
Robert David
Artworker :
Nik Coomber
Director :
Ian Pons Jewell
Director :
Nick Roney
Production Company :
Founding Partner/Executive Producer :
Zico Judge
Managing Director :
Katie Keith
EP :
Amy Appleton
Head of Production :
Sam Levene
Director of Photography :
Erik Messerschmidt
Producer :
James Waters
Production Manager :
Davina Abrahams
Production Designer :
Robin Brown
VFX Company :
Black Kite Studios
VFX Supervisor :
Adam Crocker
Executive Producer :
Amy Richardson
Producer :
Polly Durrance
Production Coordinator :
Lewes Bridson
Colorist :
Tom Mangham
VFX Lead :
Guillaume Weiss
CG Lead :
Dan Moore
CG Lead :
Milen Piskuliyski
Edit :
Final Cut
Editor :
Sam Bould
Post Sound :
String & Tins
Sound Design and Mix :
Will Cohen
Sound Design :
Lawrence Kendrick
Foley :
The Foley Barn
Audio Producer :
Laura-Leigh Smith
Music Arrangement :
Guy Farley
Music Supervision :
Will Cohen
Music Supervision :
Laura-Leigh Smith
Music :
Jean Constantin
Post Production :
Wellcom London
Post Production :
Dippin Sauce
Post Production :
Mel Di Prinzio
Post Production :
Gary Meade
Photographer :
The Wade Brothers
Photographer :
Lyndon Wade
Photographer :
Lindsey Wade
Stefano Ottaviano
Photo Assistant :
Edward Bourmier
Light Assistant :
Pablo Rincon
Light Assistant :
Gartzden Martinez
Digital Assistant :
Pedro Beraldo
Producer :
Veronica Pales
PM :
Oscar Viade
Production Coordinator :
Raqui Vives
Production Coordinator :
Eva Cid
Production Company :
3D Billboard
Production Company :
Riyadh Boulevard
VFX Company :
Electric Theatre Collective
VFX/CG Lead :
Ed Shires
Asset Lead :
Will Medcalf
Animator :
Gerered Murphy
Animator :
Han Park
Animator :
Shiny Rajan
Lighting :
Lennart Vulto
Lighting :
Jochem Aarts
FX :
Ivan Tomovic
Compositor :
Stirling Archibald
Compositor :
Scott Middleton
Senior Producer :
Oscar Wendt

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