A hijab, bacon and McDonalds’ breakfasts – the wonderful world of Ramadan advertising

Ramadan is a wonderful month, a time of spirituality for the world’s Muslims. It’s also the time of year when the advertising rules change as Muslims fast during the daylight hours and look to spend their nights either with family or in prayer.

In keeping with reaching out to Muslims, advertisers need to be ever-aware of religious sensitivities. Brands often feel the need to make a change to their ads. One such change, which was spotted by Dubai-based communications professional Mohammed Kharroubi (Twitter handle @mkdubai), involved the retailer Carrefour. Spot the change below.

Brands sometimes get things horrendously wrong. Another retailer, the UK retailer Tesco, made a huge faux-pas, when they promoted smokey bacon-flavor Pringles as part of a Ramadan promotion. For those who don’t know, any pork-related products are considered haraam in Islam and are not consumed by Muslims. The below image went viral and has resulted in masses of media coverage in the UK.

Tesco has been pilloried on social media for selling smokey bacon-flavoured Pringles as part of a Ramadan promotion

Tesco has been pilloried on social media for selling smokey bacon-flavoured Pringles as part of a Ramadan promotion

And then, there’s the bizarre. According to Dubai-based marketing consultant Hussein Dajani, McDonalds has been running advertising for its breakfasts this month on the radio on Dubai. Unfortunately, Muslims fast during the day, and most of the McDonalds restaurants serving breakfast will be closed.

With Ramadan, it really does seem that while some brands are able to adapt and thrive, others need to do their homework. What are your thoughts? And do you have your own examples of successful and unsuccessful Ramadan advertising?

One thought on “A hijab, bacon and McDonalds’ breakfasts – the wonderful world of Ramadan advertising

  1. Hey Alex,

    Interesting collection here! I’ve often mulled over what advertising means to me in Ramadan. Some times I feel the commercialisation is clearly in excess, sometimes I thing marketing is a great too to bridge understanding and bring a bit of light-hearted moments to Ramadan.

    A year back Al Jazeera’s The Stream held a very interesting discussion titled Packaging Ramadan. My tweets & views were also mentioned in them. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn57Vx5ph1M

    One of the panelists, Shahed Amanallah, is actually doing some great work bringing Islam to the foray of technology. One of the apps his team has developed includes finding the nearest Halal food option. The app (Zabiha) was featured in the Gulf News article yesterday – http://gulfnews.com/guides/life/ramadan/features/apps-up-to-date-on-ramadan-traditions-1.1541204

    Keep writing and giving us a diverse perspective of the global village 🙂

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