Icons Of Porsche: Designing For Cultural Diversity In Dubai

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In this Case Study Senka Music, Associate Creative Director in the Dubai office of experiential marketing agency MCH Global, tells us how they created an immersive brand world for the 2022 edition of classic cars festival Icons of Porsche.

Built upon on the success of Icons of Porsche 2021, the concept for the 2022 edition seamlessly integrated the “safari” theme within the overall experience of the festival. As an event that authentically focuses on the interests of the diverse Porsche audience, it captured the passion for classic car culture, the excitement of adventure, off-road and in-game, and the feeling of a community of dreamers paying tribute to the region’s culture.

The expanded 31,000-square-foot brand world hosted numerous iconic Porsche cars, displayed amongst five different thematic zones, immersing guests into different chapters of the Porsche brand and catching the attention of a diverse community with a shared drive to pursue their passions.

In our conceptual thinking about how the entire space would look, we were equally inspired by the bedouin camps of the region’s rich past, wind towers of old towns, and the rising modern skylines of the Middle East region.

The experience showed off Porsche’s adventurous side, be it through sand dunes or video games – there was a mix of activations to connect with a broad range of audiences. In parallel, the exhibitions and content that was integrated with the spatial design and that surrounded iconic Porsche cars was detailed enough to appeal to all the automotive geeks who came in masses to this exciting festival.

The development process of this experiential world was spread across several months, including tedious, detailed work on understanding the brand’s message and how to connect that to an audience that incresingly expects regional relevance to their culture.

What was the Call to Adventure?

What was the problem or opportunity, either “out there” – in society, the industry, the world – or “in here” – the firm, the community?

We had an amazing opportunity to develop the next chapter of the successful Icons of Porsche festival. While the first edition in 2021 introduced the most important elements of the brand, the 2022 edition’s main purpose was to connect the regional audience on a deeper level to one of the most famous global automotive brands and create the largest mono-brand automotive festival in the region.

In a way, 2021 was an opportunity to show up as a brand, but 2022 was a statement that the brand is here to stay!

Refusal of the Call: why didn’t you action this before?

While the first edition of the festival was a great comeback for classic car community gatherings, it really needed to convey all the basics of the Porsche brand. Only in the second edition could we work on a concept that is way more regionally relevant, as we’ve already established the standard for a Porsche experience.

The timing was also perfect, as it went hand-in-hand with the launch of a two-door, off-road Porsche car inspired by regional rallying challenges, some of the most competitive in the world. This also aligns with the off-road lifestyle that is adapted by many that live in the region, either for leisure or for amateur competitions.

What would have happened if you’d done nothing, or done what you’d always done?

In the Middle East, specifically the UAE, lots of brands keep their original IP intact and never really look into adapting it for the region. Increasingly, audiences here are demanding a more culturally relevant approach in a way where brands tell their story thorugh the passion, culture and lifestyle of this vivid region.

If we had gone for a style of architecture or activites that are more connected to Europe or USA, our experience would have never really connected to audiences here on a deeper level and would have never positioned the brand as a key leader in the passion points and interests of the diverse crowd that attended Icons of Porsche.

What Trials did you face?

Lack of knowledge? Time? Money? Contacts?

We had a lack of visual references that connect Porsche as a brand to the region, so we had to come up with a carefully balanced spatial design that would be relevant for the Middle East and still look and feel like Porsche. In a sense, we had to invent a look and feel, and be mindful to not go into directions that represent other automotive brands.

The final look and feel was evidently inspired by regional architecture, but it had a fair amount of elegance and modernity about it, making it a perfect enviroment for such a high-end product.

Who were your Enemies?

There’s never enough time to fully present everything and whenever I look back, I wish we could have added more time into going through even more historial and relevant material that would have added even more value to all the content we displayed and reimagined into creative displays, personalized activations and exciting challenges.

Who were your Allies?

Who was on your side or helped you achieve your goal?

We were overwhelmed by the amount of historic, detailed and exclusive content we’ve received from the brand and the brand’s museum. It was a great honor to bring all that to life in our own, creative way, and we worked with the people closest to Porsche to ensure that the stories presented the brand in the best way possible.

What Tools helped you on this journey?

What’s the closest thing you had to King Arthur’s Sword, or Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber?

Regardless of the variety of opportunities to improve workflow and introduce new tools to manage the plethora of content that we worked with, good old-fashioned team collaboration helped us really bring a stronger story to life.

It was incredible how all of us became historians, journalists, detectives, experts and storytellers, immersing ourselves in documents, images, books and videos. Sometimes, to really create something unique, you have to go the longer route and truly understand your subject. In this case, Porsche.

What was the biggest Ordeal?

What was the toughest challenge you faced?

The toughest challenge was to create a brand world that’s detailed enough for all the automotive experts out there and concise enough for the general public. With over 15,000 visitors during a 2-day experience, we carefully balanced elements of an experiential project that is part-festival, part-automotive event, and part-open-air museum.

Did you have any ‘Aha!’ moments?

Moments of discovery and inspiration… times when instead of the fog of uncertainty, you suddenly saw the way forward?

There was a bit of concern on how to connect all of these thematic zones together and how it would flow as an experience. Although some of the zones connected thematically or visually, others represented a bigger “evolution” and in some way were contrasting a bit to the others.

The heroes here were the iconic Porsche cars that told a brand story and really connected each zone. Our job was to create the best enviroments for our icons to live in. From their look and feel to their specs, they introduced each zone perfectly and gave it even more meaning.

What was the Reward?

What were the results of all your hard work?

Apart from going well above the target numbers from the previous edition of Icons of Porsche, the most rewarding outcome of all of this hard work was the sheer joy of people interacting with everything we’ve created ,and the amount of different groups of people engaging with the same brand through their own passion points. The volume of people interested in all the different aspects, from off-road driving and art to esports, was overwhelming!

How does the New World look now?

Now you’ve faced this challenge, what does it mean for you, your organization, and the world?

Our expertise on bringing a brand to life as an experiential world has given us opportunities to share this approach with other brands and stakeholders. We are seeing, more and more, consumers as brand ambassadors that truly believe in a brand and are engaged in its story. This all-encompassing approach for any product to be present out there is a clear sign that we all want to belong somewhere: among a community with the same passion.

It’s always a challenge to top it all off, i.e. visitor numbers, experience zones, exclusive guests… But the real challenge is to tell a continuous story with eniterly different chapters through a hero brand.

For more case studies and learning frameworks from the Experience Economy, check our Case Studies page here.