Branded content campaign focused on digital well-being


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General information

Sector: Culture & education

Media: CNBC TV, and NBCUniversal Catalyst’s social handles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram)

Time period: March – June 2022

Case description

The client, Ithra (The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture), is Saudi’s leading cultural destination centre for talent development and cross-cultural experiences. Founded in 2008, its parent company Saudi Aramco built this centre with a mission to promote innovation, community, culture and knowledge.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has presented setbacks for cultural industries globally, in Saudi, it has been one of the country’s fastest-growing industries, growing 13% annually. With Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” – whose key goal is to diversify its economy away from traditional energy sources – the culture sector has become its key priority.

The goal of Ithra’s campaign was to change the perception of Ithra’s parent company Aramco by delivering a unique digital-first, multiplatform content experience that surpasses NBCUniversal Catalyst (in-house advertising agency) benchmarks. The mission of the NBCUniversal Catalyst is to “contact the most powerful people on the planet”… a mission statement that was perfectly in line with Ithra’s expectations for this campaign. The aim was to leverage influential names to add greater value to the campaign and appeal to the stories told.

Audience insights revealed that digital well-being is a focus area that resonates with the campaign’s target audience of Business Decision Makers (BDMs) and Gen Z. These topics were tackled during the very first and new Sync Ithra Summit. During the Summit, NBCUniversal shot a two-part multimedia series, featuring informative, short-form videos shot that look into how the internet is affecting our lives. The result had to be at the level of TV content: highly qualitative, professional, and with a feeling of trustworthiness similar to TED talks. BDMs were targeted with clear-to-understand explainer short films and interviews, while for Gen Z a separate digital campaign was created featuring Gen Zers.

In addition, NBCUniversal created separate animated digital features profiling three Gen Z activists in the digital well-being space. Through custom creative assets including originally reported films, audio soundbites, made-for-social videos, a unique article based on a virtual roundtable and original animations, as well as custom, multimedia social posts. Themes including cyberbullying, fake news, Gen Z and digital landscapes, social media, gaming and the role of tech in our lives were explored. The resulting films and articles were featured on, CNBC Linear and on social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The strategy for this campaign was to dissect the timely topic of digital well-being through key themes using various platforms and a multimedia approach. Through the films (over 15 expert interviews) and rich digital stories, the NBCUniversal teams provided first-hand accounts, insights and real-life expert advice to make the stories accessible, emotional and genuine.

Campaign results

 The results of the campaign were highly successful:

  • It raised awareness of Ithra and Sync Summit radically: Over 1 in 2 CNBC consumers recognized the Ithra campaign (either on TV or online). 90% of those were positive toward the event.
  • It changed perceptions of Aramco: 66% of those recognizing the campaign on CNBC were familiar with Aramco vs. 27% of non-CNBC consumers, an uplift of 144%. 92% of those recognizing the campaign said that it will have a positive impact on their impression of Aramco.
  • It delivered a digital-first, multiplatform experience that surpassed NBCUniversal Catalyst benchmarks: The campaign consistently outperformed NBCUniversal averages and over delivered. 137M impressions were delivered across TV, digital and social.
  • It delivered 9.2M video views from digital film hub and 460K page views from digital feature page (nearly x10 more than internal benchmark)
  • It surpassed NBCUniversal Catalyst engagement benchmarks including dwell time: Engagement far exceeded our average with 6-min dwell time for the film hub (+3.2 mins compared to average) and 6.6 min dwell time for the digital feature (+3.8 mins compared to average)
  • It managed to leverage influential names with a total social following of around 4.5M, the digital feature had robust social activity, delivering an average engagement rate of 6.05%, exceeding our benchmark of 2%.

Campaign video