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Representation in Ramadan

Some brands succeeded, some brands failed but how can Adland do better?...

To read the original article, published on 5th May 2022, visit Creative Moment.

As Eid draws to a close, Amplify’s culture executive Yusuf Ntahilaja and project co-ordinator Montell Hemmings consider the brands that represented authentically, the ones that missed the mark and overall how adland could improve representation of Muslims.

Ramadan is always a special month for those who observe it, but this year was all the more meaningful for many, who could observe and then celebrate together for the first time since the pandemic.

But did this mean that more brands stepped up to engage with their Muslim consumers?

Some sectors, such as automotive, had multiple ads making reference to this month with Toyota’s Abdul Latif Jameel Motors spot ‘All the Ramadan Feels’ really conveying the fun and joy behind Ramadan, something that is often overlooked by brands that take a more serious approach. This ad focused on the communal vibe of the holy month, with a wholesome tone that still included an element of comedy as the gathering overspills into the car park.

Meanwhile, Peugeot’s ‘El Misaharaty’ gave a beautiful insight into one of the oldest, deep-rooted traditions of Ramadan.

It follows the journey of the person who walks and beats a drum in residential areas to wake people up for Suhur, the pre-dawn Ramadan meal. This touching ad keeps the focus on the traditional, whilst acknowledging how the month draws generations together.

But not all the automotive giants delighted.

Mercedez-Benz’s Road to Mecca docuseries, albeit it well-produced, put the product first.

In the UK, whilst there wasn’t a greater volume of ads courting the Ramadan pound this year, there was a greater understanding shown from some brands, such as Sports Direct, that really demonstrated that it had taken time to understand the significance of the month.

The Sports Direct podcast series offered exercise plans and wellness plus tips on mental preparation and finding balance—it really showed how to optimise health during this time which is really positive for those of us who fast. Additionally, it was great to see a fitness brand engage with the market.

Two brands though absolutely smashed it this year.

Tesco

Tesco, that has steadily engaged with Ramadan over the last few years, absolutely embraced the fact that this year, for the first time since 2019, families and friends would be ‘Together this Ramadan’.

Its digital billboard took a very simple creative premise yet delivered it with so much insight.

By engaging practising Muslims from the photographer through to the food consultant, and then bringing on The Unmistakables and finally casting from Muslim colleagues within the Race and Ethnicity Network at Tesco, the brand really delivered a campaign that will be talked about well after the Eid celebrations come to a close.

Uber Eats

Uber Eats also showed its insights, delivering entertaining content while showing understanding and commitment.

The brand’s social ad, promoting its decaf range of drinks, was spot on. So simple yet so effective. They did the work to understand that no-one wants a coffee at 9pm, but the decaf option? Yes please.

It was humorous and helpful.

And its Sundown Spots initiative, it really highlighted that the brand understands the giving element of Ramadan, while supporting its drivers and others from different brands—plus choosing to partner with TV chef Big Zuu that broke down the image that we often see of a Muslim in traditional clothes.

So while there were brands that excelled this Ramadan, how can Adland, in general, represent better?

Ramadan ads are great, but Muslims are your consumers all year round.

This calendar moment is very important but casting and more involvement behind the lens too would make for more representative ads overall.

In the UK, the portrayal of Muslims still seems to fall to one demographic, but remember that this is a global religion, with nearly 25% of the world’s population identifying as Muslims.

Shining the light on UK Muslims from different communities and showcasing the scale of the diversity will really stand your brand out as one that has invested in understanding this market.

Yusuf Ntahilaja + Montell Williams, Culture executive & project co-ordinator, Amplify.