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Advertising lessons from John Lennon and Mark Twain for this Ramadan

Moe Jawhar Serviceplan


Advertising lessons from John Lennon and Mark Twain for this Ramadan

By Moe Jawhar, executive creative director of Serviceplan Group ME

Advertising during Ramadan can increase your sales and raise your brand awareness if you bear three simple rules in mind.
The holy month of Ramadan is with us, so be ready to read multiple articles from many experts discussing its impact on advertising, media consumption, click rates and viewership.

In this article, however, we are not going to talk about any of the above. We will talk about brand perceptions versus reality in Ramadan; what do people want to hear, what’s effective and what is just a waste.

Let’s start with the famous words of John Lennon: “The more I see, the less I know for sure”.

Year after year, more brands rely on Ramadan to solve their “stock” problem; aggressive campaigns and tactical offers swamp the scene, from online, offline, anytime, everywhere. And questions like ‘what’s effective and what’s not?’ become the prime concern for brands and marketing experts.

DOWNLOAD: Exclusive Ramadan Insights on how your brand can succeed

At the same time, consumers grow tired of the extensive number of messages that they face throughout the Holy Month. And those brands that are not considering purchasing media space or spending budget during Ramadan are more focused on the creation of entertaining content, usually comedy-style commercials, which are not always effective. While comedy can work for some brands, it definitely doesn’t work for others, and that’s where brands end up with the same question again: what’s working and what’s not?

Stop running price tag tactical campaigns!

It’s accepted that our well-equipped, tech-savvy and “always-on” consumer is very aware that every brand will have a Ramadan offer, a price reduction or a benefit on top of some kind, and if he or she is interested in a product the chances are that they have already thought about it, and been waiting for Ramadan to purchase it! I’m not saying that a tactical campaign is useless or it doesn’t get any results. In fact, a smart tactical campaign can create great awareness for the brand. As one of our clients puts it,“A good tactical campaign creates brand awareness, and a good awareness campaign sells product”.

But, as most marketers know, it’s difficult to create a hard-selling campaign and deliver an emotional message at the same time, especially in the holy month when the scene is flooded with offers and prices. Therefore, setting marketing priorities is crucial.

If a brand wants to run a campaign, tactical or not, the consumer’s point of view on the matter should be a major consideration. How many campaigns in Ramadan play the emotions game and create relevant stories that truly resonate with them? Marketing budgets and campaigns need to push ideas and content, rather than simply buying advertising space.

EXCLUSIVE: What’s missing in your Ramadan FMCG strategy?

A brand’s production value is as important as its content. The idea is to create an awe-inspiring content that people will talk about, look for and truly believe in; the power of a well-told story should never be under-estimated, even if the brand is not a household name.

[Tweet “Author Mark Twain puts it best: “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising”.”]

There are tons of successful pieces of work that Middle Eastern and international brands have created for Ramadan. To put this in a formula is not straight-forward, but if we boil it down to three core points that have made a campaign work, tactical or awareness, humorous or heartfelt these would be:

The uniqueness

Establishing a unique style of communication, tone of voice, message and look and feel is important, but more importantly is the story your brand wants to tell.

[Tweet “Standing out doesn’t always involve shouting to be heard; if the room is busy and everyone is screaming, the person being calm gets noticed.”]

The relevance

Your brand needs to have a thorough understanding of the demographics of your target market in the region, what their interests are, and how they communicate. Ramadan maybe one month with set value themes, but it means different things to different people, Understanding your consumer is critical, it gives you a clear understanding of the tone and reach of your campaign.


Consumers will expect a high standard every time – they will wait for it, and they usually expect to receive the same level of quality as they did the first time, so it’s vital that your Ramadan campaigns have the same consistent high standard of quality every year.

READ: Online traffic peaks at exactly this hour in Ramadan

The Holy Month of Ramadan is a time of pleasure, reflection and gathering for Middle Eastern target groups. For some, the principle of “my offer is better than yours” might work during Ramadan, but you don’t need to limit your communication to the month of Ramadan only. On the contrary, if done right, you can have an everlasting effect long after the month ends.

Following the three simple rules of uniqueness, relevance and consistency while utilizing national holidays and holy days can definitely help your brand’s success. No campaign works without its principles, and the same applies during the month of Ramadan; no Ramadan campaign works without the brand’s principles.

[Tweet “No matter if and how your brand ticks the boxes, you should always stay loyal to your own brand values.”]

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