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Essential insights on advertising during Ramadan

Ramadan is both the holiest, and trendiest month on the Muslim calendar. Online social chatter in Indonesia rises to a rolling boil as practicing Muslims post 9.4 times more Facebook content during the Islamic holiday than during non-Ramadan periods (according to Facebook research 2016).

It’s no wonder, smartphones do a wonderful job of distracting during the fasting time between sunrise and sunset as Muslims post about their latest travel plans to return home, fasting experiences, new purchases, or recipes to enjoy when breaking fast. This year, the holiday began on June 6 and will continue until on or around Thursday July 7. With so many brands muscling for consumer’s attention during this period it is easy to get lost in the noise, so creatives need to be better and distribution needs to be smarter.

Uploads and conversations peak at both the beginning and end of Ramadan and advertisers can take part in the conversation. Here are a couple of key insights to be aware of:

Following the Ramadan journey is a must

With the lulls between meals and select days of celebration, there is clearly a cycle that your advertising campaign can follow to improve ad recall. For example, if you’re going to post about suhoor (the meal before just before sunrise), consider also posting about iftar (the meal after sunset).

McDonald’s demonstrated this brilliantly with their Wrapped Ramadan campaign in 2010. During the month of Ramadan, all  restaurants in Indonesia cover their windows to prevent temptation during the fasting period. To show solidarity with their customers, McDonald’s ran a video ad promoting their burgers – but with the wrapper still on, never revealing the image of the food during fasting. They then showed similar “unwrapped” burger video ads once fast was broken. This message remained consistent throughout the offline campaign with McDonald’s signature ‘M’ partially covered at their outlets, resulting in excellent campaign recall.

Cross-advertise to get a boost from male audiences

According to Facebook insights, 64% of people who chat online about something they saw on television during Ramadan are men.

Furthermore, a brand’s televised ad campaign has the potential to cross over to its Facebook ads for light TV users, people who watch television and use their mobile simultaneously. With the success of video on Facebook, advertisers should consider formatting their campaigns across platforms.

Start your campaign early

Online shopping on both mobile and desktop picks up two weeks before Ramadan begins, with online shopping peaking throughout the holiday. Online shopping continues until two days before Eid Al-Fitri But the shopping doesn’t stop there, post Ramadan shopping also sees an upward trend. During this time, people are buying gifts for their family, relatives and friends for their return from home.

‘Family’ is a hot topic

With a whopping 53% of Facebook chatter going towards family-focused conversations, keep your tone appropriate for all ages. With fasting and visiting relatives, both men and women are equally involved in the discussions of cooking and home care. Ramadan is both a spiritual and physical cleansing period for many Muslims, so it goes without saying, avoid any provocative or risqué imagery no matter who your brand audience is.

Look at the bigger picture

During Ramadan, ad recall is everything. Offline life slows down and customers may not be jumping up to buy your product and service. Rather than loading up on information and concepts into your campaigns, have an ongoing conversation with your audience using short, concise messages.

The writer is Fey Lawidjaja, country director, AdParlor Indonesia. 

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