Rethinking Ramadan creatives in a time of uncertainty

Muriel Makarim, Raja Narula / June 2020

Traditionally, Ramadan is a time of social gathering, where friends and families come together for reflection, prayer, and celebration. For marketers, it is also considered one of the largest ad seasons of the year.

In the lead up to Ramadan, while COVID-19 swiftly altered travel and festive plans for the world’s Muslim community, advertisers were also forced to adapt their planned creatives amidst unprecedented change and imposed distancing measures.

To uncover how brands successfully navigated these creative restrictions, we studied the Ramadan Ads Leaderboard 2020* and uncovered three key learnings from ads that successfully used creativity to convey the spirit of Ramadan within the context of uncertainty.

1. Stay in tune with the core values of the celebration

Consumers are very active online during Ramadan, spending nearly eight hours a day consuming video content. This year, despite COVID-19, brands continued to play an important part in capturing and amplifying the spirit of the festival with creatives that leaned into core Ramadan values, such as family, introspection, and hope.

P&G Indonesia’s #MaafIbuDiHidupku (Sorry, Mom) campaign acknowledged the need for physical distance during Ramadan but reminded us to give thanks to the mothers whose love and prayers supported viewers through their lives. Other examples include Adabi Malaysia’s #AdabiRayaTetapRaya (Eid will always remain Eid), and vivo Malaysia’s #RayaStyleLain (Eid in a different style) spots, which highlight how families can stay connected online while social distancing keeps them apart.

By preserving the spirit, values, and traditions that people love, brands that made the leaderboard were those that captured the hearts and minds of consumers in a time of uncertainty.

2. Be clear on the value you bring to customers

Aside from recognizing Ramadan traditions, brands also looked for ways to help make people’s lives easier, communicating meaningful messages via purpose-driven creatives.

Knowing that communication services would be essential for uniting families separated by COVID-19 during Ramadan, Telkomsel in Indonesia expressed its commitment to strengthening silaturahmi (familial bonds) by keeping people connected. The company also advocated doing acts of kindness and helping those in need during this period.

Offering guidance and assurance to viewers, Muslim.Sg created a video on how to observe Tarawih prayers at home, while McDonald’s Malaysia informed viewers looking for quick ways to break their fast that they can enjoy the restaurant chain’s new menu item via their McDelivery service.

Cooking has always been a popular genre on YouTube, but extended time at home is propelling watch times at a rate of more than 45% higher than the same period last year.1 This was reflected in the popularity of Nestlé Milkpak’s campaign, which developed 30 recipes incorporating its products — one for each day of Ramadan.

3. Use sound as a creative lever to enhance alternative video production

As COVID-19 restricted regular video production opportunities, brands shifted toward more natural, user-generated videos — using content shot from mobile phones, and opting for optimistic music and sound effects to elevate alternative video spots.

Choice of audio proved to be an important element in setting the scene as well. IM3 Ooredoo and Grab Indonesia created uplifting music videos by combining a medley of songs sung by individuals at home to invoke a sense of collective unity during the lockdown, while Tang Pakistan used an upbeat tune and an overlayed prayer call in anticipation for the end of iftar.

Although it was a very different Ramadan this year, the constraints of COVID-19 spurred innovation and offered marketers new, thoughtful ways to connect with consumers. As advertisers continue to face challenges and unpredictability for the rest of the year, one thing’s for sure: using creativity to respond to new consumer realities and upcoming festive campaigns will ensure brands remain relevant and authentic to their audiences.

YouTube Ads Leaderboard: Ramadan 2020