Ad Critique

Love is not a four letter word: go online to find the one, the halal way

22, September, 2011


In order to gain deeper insight into Muslim preferences, it is important to look at brands that are growing from within the Muslim communities.  They may have smaller budgets to use for production, and this means they may need nurturing and polishing. But when they hit a nerve with how Muslims really live, then they can offer positive insight. This week’s AdCritique looks at a very popular segment of halal products: matrimonial services. You won’t see an advert like this in the mainstream media, but it will crack a smile of recognition amongst its target audience and its humour means it is likely that it will be shared.

The context: Young Muslims want to avoid the traditional route of matchmakers when it comes to finding a marriage partner. However, long-term dating is not an Islamic value that Muslims will necessarily want to engage with. So without Aunties and parents to find a marriage partner (or wanting to avoid them due to their inappropriate choices), how is a young Muslim to find ‘the One’? Enter online services. These are similar to services like eharmony but with the context that people on the site should be looking to get married.

The concept: Matrimonial services traditionally focus on the Islamic merit of being married, and why it is worthy for people to find a partner. They can be quite staid, and daunting, and do not take into account the feelings and emotions of those who might wish to use the services. These typically tend to be a sense of aspiration to find someone, a horror at the choices that parents often make, along with nerves, shyness and embarrassment at meeting someone. The target audience for this has a surprising sense of humour and self-deprecation at the predicament that they find themselves in.

What we liked: The advert gets to the heart of the real lived experiences of the target audience. It gets straight to addressing the ‘problem’ – where to find a partner and how to approach them. It then takes the sense of embarrassment that the target audience will feel, and subverts it by using humour. In fact, it is slightly cheesy – an emotion that reflects that the audience is fully aware of its own ‘cheesy’ situation. It doesn’t dwell on the theory of finding a partner or offer any academic or religious discourse on it. Instead, it immediately empathises with its target audience, even poking gentle fun at itself.  It is short, crisp and identifies both the ‘problem’ and the ‘solution’ very quickly. It is part of a pair of adverts that highlights the real challenges the target audience faces, and the horror and humour of the situation, and the simple solution.  Although the advert doesn’t dwell on religiosity, the backdrop to the action and the details that are invoked are all in line with religious practice, and so the target audience can feel confident that the service itself will also be in line with their Islamic values.