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By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

December 14, 2022 | 6 min read

As part of our Out-of-Home Deep Dive, we look back at Tesco‘s ‘Together this Ramadan’ campaign, which took top prize at The Drum Awards for Out-of-Home, and hear why more marketers should follow its lead and talk to Muslims.

Earlier this year, Tesco celebrated Ramadan with an out-of-home (OOH) campaign centered around Iftar, the evening meal that signals the end of daily fasting.

Created in partnership with BBH, the digital billboards showed empty plates filling up with food as the sun sets. The slogan read ‘Together this Ramadan‘, adding below ‘In honor of everyone fasting, these plates only fill up as the sun goes down‘.

In the UK, over 4 million Muslims observe and celebrate Ramadan every year. However, the festival is often misrepresented or largely absent in British media.

According to the recent survey New-Gen Muslims by The People, 94% of young Muslims don’t feel represented in media and popular culture at all. “The people we surveyed are extremely active and receptive to brands engaging with the community, but unfortunately there seems to be a vacuum and no one brand is taking the lead,” explains the creative consultancy‘s founder Kian Bakhtiari.

“At the moment you have a consortium of smaller brands that have a close connection with the community, but not a lot of big ones.”

In its own campaign, Tesco wanted to change this by marking such a prominent moment in the Islamic calendar with an authentic portrayal of its rituals. “We really wanted to make something that spoke to the community,” says Helen Rhodes, executive creative director at BBH, the agency behind the OOH spot.

To do so, BBH and Tesco worked with inclusion consultancy The Unmistakables to ensure no details were missed. BBH recruited Khalil Musa, who is a photographer and a practicing Muslim, as well as the food consultant Dina Macki whose food is influenced by her Middle Eastern background. Some of the cast was selected from Muslim colleagues within the Race and Ethnicity Network at Tesco who were also consulted throughout the campaign development.

It was an unequivocal success, seeing a 275% uplift of Tesco and Ramadan mentions on social, as well as receiving kudos from Muslims across the UK and the wider public, with a net sentiment score of 13 (versus the 12 of Tesco’s Christmas 2021 launch).

The dearth of brands targeting detailed campaigns towards the Muslim community could be due, at least in part, to the richness and diversity within the group itself, says Bakhtiari. “There’s Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Sufi Muslims, Black Muslims and Middle Eastern Muslims, as well as practicing Muslims and reverts, so even just within the UK the diversity is huge and it takes a lot of investment and effort to try and understand the differences.”

There is also a “fear of getting it wrong and being crucified on social media,” he says, but adds that Tesco is an example of just what can happen when a brand meaningfully engages with an underrepresented community. Going forward, however, Bakhtiari would like to see such brands engage with communities year-round and not just on important religious dates: “You wouldn’t marry someone you’d only met on Valentine’s Day and not on any other dates!”

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Over at the British broadcaster Sky, senior vice-president of international business Debarshi Pandit (who is also head of its multicultural business and co-chair of the multiculture network) points to the work it has been doing on engaging the British Asian community around cricket. “We have a unique opportunity to reach this community from multiple angles because while it is multicultural content, it is also mainstream.”

This year, he explains, Sky ran ads in Hindi and for brands including Tata tea (which also owns Tetley) – “major advertisers that have never dabbled in mainstream media before,” as he puts it.

Ever the TV evangelist, Pandit thinks that Tesco could have bolstered its Ramadan campaign by making it omnichannel, saying: ”Television is a huge thing for the Muslim community, so wouldn’t it be great to extrapolate these campaigns and make them more holistic?”

Nonetheless, he is full of praise for the work, adding: “It was a very smart utilization of OOH because ethnic groups in the UK are so concentrated in the 10 major cities. [Tesco’s campaign ran specifically in areas with a high Muslim population, such as Brent in London, Birmingham and Bradford.]

“It is undeniable that OOH is uniquely poised to target certain groups according to location, but there are huge gains to be made by tweaking small, incremental plans.”

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