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  • Ramadan voices from around the Ogilvy Noor network: Thailand

    This week we’ll be bringing you Ramadan reflections from the Ogilvy Noor team around the world. Combining local insights with personal experience, it’s a chance to get close up on a month that brings together families, communities and enhances spirituality, through the lens of Ogilvy Noor’s deep experience in building relationships with Muslim consumers.

    Today, the Ramadan view comes from John Goodman, Ogilvy Noor’s President, who is marking Ramadan in Bangkok, Thailand.

    My home is Thailand where only 5% of the population is Muslim, so the sprawl that is modern Bangkok doesn’t see much perceptible change. However of course there are enclaves centred around the mosques, where observation is noticeable and the spirit of Ramadan is pervasive. My personal experience is centred around the Haroon mosque on the banks of the Chao Praya river in the heart of the city.

    This mosque, founded by an Indonesian traveller, is home to a tightly knit community, which has occupied this area for nearly two hundred years, squashed between 5-star hotels and the French Embassy. The Friday service is bilingual in English and Thai, and for that reason attracts Muslims from all the minority communities in the city – Asian, African and European. The atmosphere is wonderful as it enjoys a multicultural and multiethnic communing – a real symbol of the complete Ummah in a small space.

    In my job I am fortunate to travel across Asia throughout the year, visiting countries that are majority Muslim and countries where Muslims form a small but important minority. Therefore the perspectives on Ramadan vary greatly from place to place. Each country has local customs and behaviours reflecting their own culture. For me the most surprising of these is night cricket in Pakistan, starting late at night and on into the small hours of the morning.

    It is also obviously a major commercial occasion as manufacturers gear up for a significant increase in consumption at this time – which sometimes seems odd resulting from a period of fasting. Television and other media are full of commercials designed to reflect Muslim values but at the same time to harness the social and family occasions which drive increased purchase. How well these things are done varies greatly; some companies seem to understand and act sympathetically to the purpose of Ramadan – others treat it as just an excuse to sell, sell, and sell.

    Most of them though seem to miss an opportunity. This is a chance not just to reach out and touch the wallets of the Muslims, but also to show how brands and companies can make a genuine contribution to a time of reflection, aspiration and awareness of the higher values that Ramadan embodies. It’s a challenge that is still not being met by communicators.

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