Ramadan is the most sacred month in Islamic culture; it marks the point when God gave the Prophet Muhammad the first chapters of the Quran. It is a time when Muslims fast and refrain from pleasures, and it brings the family together.
In respect of this sanctity, digital agencies tend to be extra careful with the content they create for their brands. Communicate Levant asked some experts about the precautions agencies take while launching a campaign during this month, how it affects the design and concept-creating process, and what platforms they use or avoid.
Reva Berbari, digital director at Its.Beirut
Ramadan is a religious occasion, and while planning for a campaign, we should be cautious when determining what ad messaging to use as we should make sure that ads are always respectful of Muslim culture and tradition. Sometimes, we are tempted to work on a catchy ad that could go wrong by depicting or saying something that some might find offensive. We have to remember that Ramadan is a religious tradition with strong emotional ties in society that must be respected. The messaging should be reviewed by multiple locals to confirm it will not be taken in the wrong way and damage a brand’s identity. The same goes for design; it goes along with the concept, and the idea should also take into consideration the religious aspect of the campaign. That is why we see that common symbols of this religious occasion are prevalent (such as the crescent, dates, lanterns, Arab tea pots and cannons). Also, the tagline should communicate an emotional message with a religious connotation.
When it comes to channels, digital platforms and mobiles are the most recommended. Recent Google insights clearly show that people across the MENA region spend more time online, use their smartphones more and watch more Youtube videos during Ramadan. We are also witnessing a peak of TV spots as Ramadan shows are intensively watched. I believe that radio spots and print are not necessary, especially if the budget is short.
Ahmad Beck, executive creative director at Rizk Group
In all our Ramadan campaigns, the primary concern is to remain respectful of Islamic culture and traditions, and to avoid any content that might be deemed offensive in any way, be it in the language or the visual elements that are used. Therefore, content is concise and family-or greeting-oriented, with limbo backgrounds and patterns reflecting the sacredness of the month.
We also consider the platforms we use; during Ramadan, television shows become a main pastime for most families after the Iftar. Likewise, mobile usage increases until Souhour times, which is why our primary platforms are TV and social media to get our brands optimal exposure.
In parallel, supermarkets are very busy throughout the month, which is why we also rely on below the line materials (brochures, flyers, leaflets) to increase visibility and sales.
Omar Dakdouk, digital communications director at Mindshare
We look at consumption habits that change during this time, ranging from the channels used, time of usage, amount of time spent, type of content used, Geo-targeting content to reach specific audiences and locations, etc. and all of those are obviously gender oriented as well. When it comes to the concept and design, the impact is well noticed as brands need to incorporate the look and feel of this holy month without falling into the “too Ramadanish feel”. It is not easy, and creative agencies really struggle, but they are smart and have tons of talent to overcome this. Content tends to fall into, but is not limited to, food and tips for family and friends, things to do during fasting, and fitness and health. The younger audience behave slightly differently from older segments, but in general, we tend to focus on family and food verticals during Ramadan as well as lifestyle and hobbies and slightly on religious themes. Prior to Eid, we start focusing on promotions like gifts and services. Another example would be travel adverts, which start before Ramadan (for countries that require visas) and extend to the third week of Ramadan (for countries that don’t require visas).
We also tend to avoid topics like dating and relationships, some music segments and obviously hatred and bad news as those are general no-goes.