Ramadan Reflections: How Brands Can Build Conversations With Authenticity

Ramadan is the holiest month of the year in Islamic culture, and for Muslims everywhere—it is a time for spiritual reflection, growth, helping those in need, and spending time with loved ones. 

Traditionally Ramadan has  offered brands an opportunity to connect with their Muslim customers. But with nationwide lockdowns and social distancing rules that have lasted over a year, how can brands build meaningful conversations with the region’s observing Muslims in these challenging times?

Avoid tired tropes 

Time and again, audiences have been subject to Ramadan-themed ads and short films that aim to either make them feel-good or tear-up. But while this may work for brands with big budgets, others must find other ways of standing out. 

In today’s changing landscape, brands need more than tired tropes  to stay relevant. They need to prioritise not only connecting with their employees and customers but doing so in a meaningful way — which can be extra tricky during a pandemic. But some brands, like McDonald’s Singapore, managed to pull it off. 

Their My Happy Table campaign created meaningful buzz by letting Malaysian employees in Singapore converse with their families via a video call in a McDonald’s outlet. Homegrown brand ZakatSG also defied convention with its Ramadan-themed horror-comedy ad film Nenek Keropok, which humorously reinforced the spirit of Ramadan.

Reflect reality not clichés

Most Ramadan-themed ads portray gender stereotypes, where women are usually seen cleaning and decorating the house, or preparing and serving food for iftar — all with a wide smile.  Meanwhile, men are depicted as tough and strong breadwinners, while women appear delicate and fragile, and pursue domestic endeavours, such as tending to the house and children. 

Continuing to portray these sterotypes has started to impact brand perception and identity with an increasing number of muslim customers simply unable to identify with them anymore.  For brands that took a different approach, the response has been welcoming. Julie’s Biscuit ad this year, for example, broke boundaries with its series of humorous  vignettes where a frazzled director ironically tries his  best to get his errant cast to play out typical Raya ad tropes. 

It’s 2021 and it’s about time Ramadan-Raya ads reflect real-life experiences that everyone can relate to. 

Demonstrate your generosity

Muslims are often reminded to be generous and giving during the month of Ramadan, driving a spike of interest in the charity category, alongside others like food and retail. This spike is an excellent opportunity for brands to amplify positive messages and show their support for vulnerable and marginalised communities. Through carefully crafted  initiatives, brands can do their part to rally consumers during the festive season and create a memorable way for them to help those in need.

Be vocal about your efforts

This is the second year that people have been physically apart during Ramadan. As  more people turn to digital methods of staying connected to their traditions and loved ones, brands also have an important role to play in building conversations and communities. 

However, it is important that they communicate with customers in a nuanced and authentic manner to remain memorable, especially in these turbulent times.

Need help connecting with your audience during a festive season or any occasion? Drop us a line at [email protected]

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