With the world’s Muslim population expected to increase by 70% in the coming decades according to Pew Research, the month-long Ramadan observance offers marketers an opportunity to engage and build their brands with the world’s fastest-growing religious group.
And, if they get their messaging right, they can set themselves up for long-term business gains.
A closer look at last year’s Ramadan-themed ads sheds light on the keys to success and the organisations that are well-positioned for brand building.
The ads highlighted below were tested with a nationally representative sample in Indonesia with audiences noting their emotional response. The happier people feel, the more they buy, so understanding viewers’ emotions can predict the short-term sales potential and long-term brand-building potential of advertising.
Five elements to help advertisers win consumers for life:
Strong-performing Ramadan ads explore connecting with one another in an increasingly disconnected world where both technology and people’s own lives take precedence over maintaining relationships.
This Indomie ad showcases a family coming together from their separate spaces to connect over a meal.
In Downy’s ad, we see love and care, as a dutiful wife patiently guides her elderly husband who is losing his memory through the rituals of Eid.
Storytelling is such a powerful tool in advertising because it takes viewers on an emotional journey. Ramadan ads often tell stories about family, community, positive change, and excitement.
Some ads leverage negative emotions such as sadness and then resolve them, like Coca-Cola’s, which builds tension around the fallout between a son and father/uncle and how a meal together can lead to resolution. Others focus on positive storylines about relationships in workplaces and close-knit communities to showcase belonging.
Wardah’s Ramadan ad is about spreading kindness, with the protagonist righting a wrong and empowering someone less fortunate than her.
Pocari Sweat’s commercial highlights a young mother and son who transform into magical beings and spread joy while fasting with the help of the product.
Family and togetherness are highly valued in Muslim culture because they provide a sense of identity and belonging.
In Ramadan ads, we see a range of character interactions and portrayals, like intergenerational relationships, the recurring trope of the “lonely old man,” women in traditional domestic roles, children as an essential indicator of a complete family, and even products being used as characters.
Children are often used to communicate a happy urban family. Even if children are now adults, the parent-child relationship is an important theme, like in Khong Guan’s ad.
Fluency is one of the three key F’s that make great, profitable brands, with Fame and Feeling being the other two. Viewers need to recognise a brand and its assets quickly.
The Energen and Khong Guan ads both achieved exceptional fluency within the first 5 seconds of the creative, as well as exceptional time-weighted fluency, which measures how recognisable the brand was across the duration of the ad. They each leveraged distinctive assets early on to put their branding front and centre.
Music is an incredibly powerful component in advertising, with different types impacting overall effectiveness. In advertising expert Orlando Wood’s books Lemon and Look out, he notes that music with discernible melody appeals to the right brain and is more likely to enhance long-term brand building than repetitive rhythmic music that appeals more to the narrow attention of the left brain.
Unfortunately, there are fewer ads today that feature melodic music. Many also opt for voiceovers, which can hinder emotional response and explain the ad to an unnecessary degree, robbing the right brain of the opportunity to make connections by itself.
However, in McDonald’s ad, the music is upbeat and the soundtrack incorporates natural elements – sounds of the sea, waves, and wind. Music is especially key when there is no dialogue between characters, like in Oreo’s ad. The music is energetic and playful, perfectly matched for the storyline of a boy pretending to be a pirate.
With Ramadan observance growing in the US and across the world, more brands and retailers are looking to court consumers with ads specifically targeted to them with a view towards driving both immediate sales and long-term brand loyalists.