Ramadan Series Part 2: Creative Planning

Lynn Hazim, Sara Hamdan / February 2019

In Part 1 of our series this year, we explored data-driven industry insights. Rather than slowing down as is common belief, several industries peak during Ramadan, including beauty and entertainment. Next, we look into how to use data and insights to inform a creative strategy. Specifically, we analyze the top 5 trends of the best Ramadan ads on YouTube.

Did you know that during Ramadan, people proactively search for ads on YouTube? Blame it on the jingle that you can’t get out of your mind or the heart-warming message that makes audiences want to share a moment with their loved ones. One thing is clear though, during Ramadan, people are in the mood for stories. Increasingly, stories are in the form of ads. In fact, more than half of all Ramadan videos viewed organically on YouTube last year were ads. Considering that Ramadan is the super bowl of the Middle East, having an ad that truly connects with audiences is a big win during the holy season.

We have celebrated this phenomenon over the last three years through The Lantern Award that celebrates the best Ramadan ad on YouTube. Catering to all advertisers, creative and media agencies, The Lantern Award highlights creative excellence in Ramadan and Eid el Fitr advertising, based on YouTube views and engagements. Here are the top 5 trends to keep in mind in developing your creative for a Ramadan campaign this year.

1) Web series work, especially during Ramadan
We’ve seen this since year one: multi-part stories, web series or what we call “hub” content on YouTube works, especially during Ramadan. Viewers are in the mood for stories. Since Ramadan spans 30 days, this gives brands the perfect opportunity to expand their story beyond the solo 30’ second spot that gets repeated every day. With webseries or multi-part stories, people actually get hooked and start engaging more with each video posted. Last year, we saw more brands than ever create web series and these came from various industries such as Beauty with Make Up Forever’s Helwet Ramadan, Automotive with Toyota’s Khbayyes & Abou Hrayess’ series claiming the top spot, and Telcos with Vodafone’s Ramadan stars series

2) A shift from the dominance of service brands
We usually see the top 10 ads dominated by service brands, like telcos and banks. This is not surprising, as it is of paramount importance for these brands to be engaging. However, this also shows that when a brand decides to create content with consumer needs, passions and relevant insights in mind, they succeed in winning their attention and interest. We’re seeing more industries focusing on their Ramadan communication as a result. The winning brand last year was Toyota ALJ’s Toyota’s Khebayyes & Abu Hurayyes series - the first auto brand to win this distinction in three years.
3) 'Family' and 'togetherness' are still key themes
Music and songs, dance performances, family reunions and friends’ gatherings still reign supreme during Ramadan with a message of togetherness, altruism and generosity at their core. Most of the top 10 ads are still dominated by these themes, including Etisalat, Mobily, and Orange Egypt

4) Celebrities are not a must, but when used right, they generate results
Celebrities should be used in the right context. Some celebrity uses did not add any engagement to the brand’s copy. But others did, including the winner of the 2017 Lantern Award, Orange Egypt, and the winner of the 2016 Lantern Award, Viva’s Where’s my Bowl? Several successful web series also successfully featured popular YouTube content creators, such as Maybelline’s ongoing Makyaj wa Banat series.

5) During Ramadan, longform content is king
YouTube allows for flexibility to tell your story, whether as a 6’ bumper or an 8 minute long video. But during Ramadan, people are in the mood for stories and they watch longer content. The average ad length in our top 10 Ramadan leaderboard is 4.5 minutes long with the longest ad running 26 min long. This is 25% longer than the average length of our top 10 ads in 2018.

When analyzing the top Ramadan ads across these markets, we see that audiences connect most with ads that moved them. Whether the ad included a catchy song or your favorite creator giving you insider beauty tips as part of a web series, the combination of storytelling, clever characters and clear messaging resonates well with viewers. We hope this has provided you with inspiration and look forward to what Ramadan 2019 will bring!

The Lantern Award is back for its fourth year to celebrate Ramadan and Eid el Fitr creative campaigns that move audiences on YouTube. Submissions open May 5, 2019 and close June 10, 2019, so stay tuned for updates.



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