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Ramadan is here, and while many of the pious are gearing up for a month of  self-denial  and supplication, many Muslims are also frantically stocking up on supplies in preparation for Iftar gatherings and boundless hospitality. A Western, non-Muslim observer, would see a huge paradox that the month of fasting and abstinence is regarded by many Muslims as the month of feasting and overabundance.

Companies in Muslim countries are quick to capitalize on consumers increased spending as well as the promise of a captive television audience that expects to be entertained both by a profusion of new shows especially produced for Ramadan, as well as equally captivating commercials. (Ramadan commercials in Egypt actually remind me of Super Ball commercials, both in the competition among advertisers to produce the best, and the budgets spent on both producing and airing them.)

Initially it was food-related companies that would take advantage of consumer’s heightened interest in food and increased spending on food items to increase their marketing messaging during Ramadan. Now, it is not only food-related companies; hotels for example launch special Ramadan packages, and cell phone network providers emotionally appeal  to the value of keeping in touch and provide their most attractive offers. Ramadan is also the time for many companies to launch new products.

This leads me to wonder, as marketers, where do we draw the line between business practicality and opportunism?

How do we align our Muslim values and trying to preserve the true spirit of Ramadan with business common sense, especially in challenging economic times?

Do you have an example of a company that has succeeded in achieving this balance?

 

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