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  • Win Muslim consumers through effective Ramadan branding: tips on humour and charitable giving

    Last week we looked at some generally smart ways that companies and brands can reach out to Muslim consumers during Ramadan. This week we want to extend the series to look at two additional values to tap into in order to connect to the core of the Muslim consumer.

    We’ll be running this Ramadan series for the whole of this month, and it will be supported by our AdCritique feature, that showcases adverts that do a great job of speaking to Muslim consumers.

    There is wisdom in our in-depth analysis of the month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr which marks its completion. This is a month of overwhelming solidarity for Muslims, with spiritual devotion, community togetherness and family bonding running at high levels. Whilst cultural practices, traditional foods consumed at the time for breaking fast, and customs and rituals may vary across the world-wide Muslim community, a number of values run consistently through their lives as a result of the role that religion plays in their lives. This is particularly heightened during this month.

    Muslims are balancing their aspiration for increased spiritual devotion, observance of religious duties such as charity, kindness and family support, with the very real challenges of fasting from dawn to dusk and its associated hunger and thirst. Brands that can communicate that they understand both the aspiration as well as the natural human foibles associated with the difficulties of fasting, will do well.

    An example of good humoured Ramadan TV advertising was run by Nandos. The scene pictures a young man, chicken held in his hands, poised at the front of his lips. The camera is focused on his face, the blue sky behind him. The skyscraper skyline could be almost any city. He stares into the distance, his fingers clutching the chicken, waiting. We wonder what he is looking at as the seconds pass by. He continues to stare, focused, the chicken held unfalteringly. Eventually the camera pans round and we see the sun hovering above the horizon, but still not quite setting. We understand that the man is waiting for sunset so he can eat his chicken. The advert closes with the simple message written on Nandos paper, “Ramadan Kareem.” The advert doesn’t spell out to the Muslim consumer what is happening. In fact, by avoiding being too obvious it embraces humour instead of being patronising.  It recognises the humanity of the fasting experience and that Muslims aspire to meet their religious duty of not eating till sundown, whilst at the same time yearning for tasty food.

    But it’s not all about food in Ramadan. Muslims aspire to do good works, and brands that can support them in this will do well.

    The Colgate-Palmolive Ramadan campaign that has been running since 2008 ties in product purchase to charitable giving, and focuses its activities in the run-up to, and during the month of Ramadan. This particular campaign hosted orphans at the zoo just before the beginning of the month. It will also donate a proportion of the sale of each tube of toothpaste during August and September towards 15 orphanages across Malaysia. It’s winning factors are its long-term consistency, and its focus on building and sustaining charitable works in an area which is very dear to Muslim consumer hearts – orphans – particularly during Ramadan which has a strong emphasis on family.

    The key thing if companies do want to do good works is to avoid doing it for PR mileage – Muslim consumers can smell this a mile away. But if it is part of the community’s overall charitable aspirations and the brand becomes a trusted community member by showing their genuine intentions, then the charitable giving campaign will take root in the community’s heart.

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