What is Ramadan and what could it represent for advertisers?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which follows the cycles of the moon. This means that the exact dates of Ramadan change every year, but what stays the same is the tradition of fasting, prayer and spiritual discipline observed by 1.9 billion Muslims around the world throughout the holy month. We look at the values this month centers around, what opportunities this represents for marketers and how brands are connecting with their audiences through the special celebrations of Ramadan and Eid to scale success. 

Ramadan values and celebrations

The holy month inspires Muslims to increase their efforts in spirituality, giving, kindness and community. Fasting from dawn to dusk, the Ramadan daily routine presents a shift in daily habits and schedules, which has a direct effect on consumer behaviour as Muslims prepare to host Iftaar gatherings, cook traditional foods, connect with their families, friends, and community, and prepare for Eid al-Fitr, the special celebrations marking the end of the month. 

Much like Christmas in the West, Ramadan is a key shopping season for its observers, but it’s also a season of media entertainment. This is where most brands launch limited time offers and sales, Ramadan series’ compete for viewers’ attention and coveted Ramadan ad spots witness the most innovative advertising efforts of the year. 

Stand out from the crowd during the busiest ad season

During the busiest ad season in the Middle East, successful ads focus on the themes and values of the month rather than individual products and are weaved together by great storytelling. Google statistics reveal that search interest increased for “ad” by more than 13X during last year’s holy month in the MENA region, while 75% of the top-watched YouTube videos in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Egypt were ads. 

The Ramadan Effect on Muslims’ consumer and digital behaviour during the season of spirituality, giving and kindness affects how they see their favourite brands, as they hold them accountable for giving back, offering relevant messaging and programming for a key calendar season. In turn, brands look to make a difference and take advantage of the opportunity to scale success and reach a wide audience during a truly global moment. Here are some successful pieces of work from Ramadan 2022, which have garnered an authentic connection with their audience. 

Tesco: Part of its commitment to inclusivity in its advertising, this year saw Tesco’s first major Ramadan campaign in the UK, with OOH digital billboards featuring empty plates which only fill with food after the sun sets. The billboards face eastwards so that the sun sets behind them and appear in areas with large Muslim communities in London, Birmingham and Bradford.

The slogan reads ‘Together this Ramadan’, while below is the line: ‘In honor of everyone fasting, these plates only fill up as the sun goes down’.

Sports Direct: Sports Direct have launched ‘Fast Enough: Ramadan Running’, a podcast hosted by Olympian Lutalo Muhammad, a continuation of last year’s award-winning campaign ‘Fast & Slow’, launched after findings highlighting that a quarter of Muslims train less during Ramadan.

Dropping 30-minutes before sunset on a weekly basis, each episode provides expert advice on optimizing training during Ramadan. The series explores the physical, spiritual, and mental benefits of running at a slower pace throughout the holy month with the aim of helping Muslim communities achieve their fitness and sporting goals whilst fasting this Ramadan.

Uber Eats: Uber Eats has also launched a scheme to provide complimentary Iftar meals to fasting delivery drivers and couriers, following research they commissioned surveying UK Muslims which found that 93% of respondents think there should be more initiatives from companies to raise awareness of Ramadan. They are partnering with TV chef and rapper Big Zuu to develop one of the dishes being served in the capital.

Recognising the importance of giving during Ramadan, Uber Eats is additionally offering 50% off all first-time grocery orders placed throughout Ramadan, with the code SUNDOWN50, for those hosting Iftar dinners at home. And for every Halal meal ordered on Uber Eats throughout the holy month, the food ordering platform will donate a Halal meal to its food distribution charity partner, City Harvest. 

Emirates Airlines has collaborated with Dubai-based artists with disabilities; EA highlights the giving back and community elements of Ramadan through a heart warming video. It showcased intricately designed Ramadan meal boxes made by ‘people of determination’, as they are known in the UAE. 

Key Takeaways for Marketers:

  1. Ramadan is truly a global moment and a busy ad season. Join the conversation authentically to take full advantage of this opportunity for scaled success.
  2. Focus your campaign strategy on building an authentic connection with your audience through nuanced, sensitive representation.
  3. Identify how your brand can reflect Ramadan’s key values of spirituality, giving and kindness through entertainment and engaging storytelling.

By Noor Toshani

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