On March 21st, 2022, the Iranian calendar read 01/01/01, marking the Iranian New Year and beginning the Nowruz celebrations. Since the beginning of our agency, we have been sending out greetings for special occasions. This time was different, and this time we made it different.
Last year, we Iranians celebrated the dawn of a new century, meaning that this year the first day was on the first month of the first year. This meant that the Iranian calendar read like binary. The ones and the zeros are not only symbolic of beginnings — they are symbolic of the current digital world in which we live.
For the first time since our beginning, we solved our non-profit Nowruz greetings challenge using only digital. No clever gifts, no printing or packaging, and no delivery hassles — a win for the environment you might say. The added benefit of this decision would be that we could generate interest for our social media campaign capabilities — something that is increasingly in demand within our market.
We tailor most of our agency communications to our LinkedIn audience, where we derive good organic growth and interest from new clients and talent. For us, LinkedIn is a prime place to communicate because of the high-value individuals that frequent the platform. We have observed that these individuals like others to see that they engage with posts. Such engagement increases reach and inadvertently adds value to the content.
Additionally, LinkedIn inadvertently challenges our in-house production capabilities. Our videos are produced as non-profit content, meaning that our team looks to find solutions that conform to a low budget while retaining high quality.
With both LinkedIn and Instagram in mind, we chose to create an epic video of an epic story to form the basis of our Nowruz greetings. Nowruz is the name for the occasion of the New Year and translates as “new day”. The occasion is officially recognized by 12 countries, with roughly 300 million people celebrating it worldwide. In fact, in 2016, UNESCO recognized the importance of Nowruz by declaring it “an intangible cultural heritage of humanity”.
We creatively combined our epic story with depictions of the Nowruz display that the Iranian families often create. This display, known as “Haft Seen”, presents seven edible items that begin with the letter S, among other decorative details. The Haft Seen can be likened to the Christmas tree whereby families come together to make their unique display before proudly sharing the results.
So, back to our epic video. We based it on Iranian mythology to show the origin story. It depicts Ahura Mazda, the god of soul and wisdom, creating the universe. He first created the sky, then the plants and animals, before finally creating Mashia, the first male, and Mashiana, the first female. This couple traveled the world, learning that the secret to happiness and immortality is in love, which begets growth and creativity.
The story of Mashia and Mashiana might sound familiar. That is because it is the Iranian equivalent of the Western origins story of Adam and Eve, but maybe more positive. We animated these first humans using interpretive dance created by a local theatre director, Mr. Mohsen Hosseini. The actors conduct their performance among items of the “Haft Seen”.
Put simply, the message in our Nowruz video was about fresh starts. Firstly, we showed this with the new year and the numbers 01/01/01 on the Iranian calendar. Secondly, we used the Nowruz as a symbol for fresh starts. Lastly, we combined these with the Iranian mythical origins story to symbolically invite our audience to let go of their past troubles and to make a fresh start based on love, like Adam and Eve (or Mashia and Mashiana).
The results of our video were beyond our expectations. We achieved a reach of over 4.5x relative to our LinkedIn following. This impressive stat was helped by the cheeky and creative copywriting used in the caption. It is not easy to translate, but in Persian, the word for human is Adam, like the man in the origins story. We toyed with the double meaning of the word human, which resulted in higher engagement among our audience. Among the positive feedback, the copywriting was something that our audience pointed out as being witty and enjoyable.
Aside from the likes and comments, we also received inquiries from local brand managers who expressed an interest in us using this low-budget but high-quality video technique to help them up their social media communications game.
We were excited enough to learn that our Nowruz video greeting went viral, but we were thrilled when we learned it had won an international award. Yes, Zigma8 won bronze and an honorable mention at the WINA Awards 2022, hosted in Dubai. The award marks the first occasion an Iranian-based agency wins at the WINA Awards. We're hoping that it won’t be the last.