How Ramadan is Portrayed in Advertising

Virtue Worldwide, a creative arm of Vice Media Group recently concluded a virtual session highlighting their own research on Ramadan-themed advertising.

The event which was moderated by radio host, Fiza O and included insight from Saad Al Abbassi, Senior Strategist at VICE Arabia, Yara Boraie, Associate Copywriter at Virtue, and Anggia Pulungan, Brand Director Indonesia Haircare and P&G touched on three key themes.

  1. The limited representation of Ramadan in advertising
  2. The outdated portrayal of gender roles in Ramadan ads
  3. The impetus for Ramadan to be greeted upon as a culture beyond a religion

There are much richer cultural themes to be explored in Ramadan advertising beyond fasting and feasting

Research revealed that Ramadan ads tend to fall into the usually known tropes relating to fasting followed by big feasts, and smiling faces.


Food is regarded as synonymous with the Holy Month because it is and has historically been represented as the only part of Ramadan, however, this is far from reality. It does not speak to topics such as gender roles, mental health, and societal pressures that are equally important.

Ramadan advertising has the power to amplify contemporary Muslim households

The report has revealed that while gender has long been talked about, it has seldom been in the context of Ramadan. Despite many practicing Muslims spending the majority of their time fasting, women are still represented or even celebrated as spending more time in the kitchen.


At least 45% of men in the Middle East list cooking as their interest, yet Ramadan ads only portray them as helpers in the kitchen. The role of a woman in a family has largely remained in countries like Indonesia, but it is critical for brands to help change the narrative, to portray and address the gender bias that exists.

The virtual session highlighted this notion and the role of advertising in shaping culture and narratives – that advertisers can be a catalyst by normalizing issues instead of shying away from them.


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