Over the past few years we’ve seen brands across various industries ramp up their Ramadan game to engage the four million-strong British Muslim population. And since Ramadan marketing efforts have historically been pretty lazy, when brands have advertised above the line, such as Tesco’s Ramadan ad last year, they’ve been able to own the moment and receive huge support and appreciation from Muslims across social media.
But this year, I must say I’m quite disappointed that many brands have taken a few steps back, reverting to isolated efforts sitting deep into their regular customer journey without any respectable marketing effort behind it.
The Ramadan pound is no secret, and brands from Morrisons to John Lewis to Argos have all made efforts this year to capture it through dedicated landing pages, in-store displays and dedicated aisles. But the activity being deep into the brand ecosystem means they’re appealing to their existing traffic/footfall and only engaging the “low-hanging fruit”. Their activity is simply sales driven rather than a genuine attempt to celebrate the festivities like they would for other moments in the year, such as Christmas or Halloween. One of the better examples I’ve seen this year was Deliveroo’s 20% Iftar discount which took over in-app features – but with that being said, more could have been done to elevate this as an experience beyond the app.
Also, if brands are solely going to do point-of-sale activity – at least get it right (see above photo – I shouldn’t have to explain why this is wrong, but if you’re still stuck… 97% of British Muslims don’t drink alcohol).
So, for this year’s winner, there was only one real entrant – but thanks to Allah it was a good one.
Fifa’s Ramadan ad found a role for the brand during the festive month, with an authentic and raw treatment that presented Ramadan in a way that Muslims could relate to and the rest of the country have probably never seen. It didn’t shy away from the religiosity, which was refreshing, and it also represented real British Muslim Ramadan culture and moved away from the tiring stereotypical Middle Eastern or Indian cultural depictions.
British Muslims are predominantly from British Asian backgrounds, and they’re heavily underrepresented within mainstream football. The ex-chairman of the FA, Greg Clarke, even went as far to say that British Asians are more suited to the IT department. But the realities couldn’t be further from that as British Asians and British Muslims are just as much into football as anyone else – even setting up the Midnight Ramadan League to keep football alive during their month of fasting.
Fifa did a great job by partnering with the Midnight Ramadan League as it let local communities hold a central role within their activation. What stood out to me the most was the creative approach and treatment of the ad. They built an actual narrative, casted properly and brought Muslim creatives behind the lens to craft a real Ramadan moment for what it truly is. It steps away from typical Ramadan creative cues (lanterns, deep greens colours, crescents etc) and rewrites the stereotypical view of a young Muslim living in the UK.
More brands need to approach multicultural moments like this rather than relying on the existing resources at their disposal. Be brave and be confident to get the right people in the room to help you connect with Ramadan and British Muslims today – not the outdated ideas that exist from the 1980s.
The impact of Fifa’s ad has been phenomenal. Muslim Twitter, community pages and digital publications have shared it en masse, celebrating a mainstream brand actively engaging with Ramadan for the young British Muslim. Fifa has set a standard, so for other brands that want to play a role during Ramadan and receive dividends, you need do more much higher up the funnel to stand a chance.
Arif Miah is creative strategy director at Mud Orange