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Ramadan campaigns 2018 reviewed: Hit or Miss? – Part 1

The holy month of Ramadan is an introspective and spiritual time of the year, when people fast, pray, change their daily routines, catch up with their favorite TV drama series and spend more time with their near and dear ones.

It’s also that time of year when television and digital screens are bombarded with commercials. To help marketers outshine their competitors, and stand out amid Ramadan ad clutter, Sapience, in partnership with Mediaquest, conducted an analytical study titled “Marketing in Ramadan”.

The report looks at all Ramadan and Eid advertising with a focus on insight versus stereotype based advertising and the channels that work during the month.

Credibility in clutter

Advertising clutter is caused by several factors including:

-Too many commercials in one break

-Too many commercial breaks in an hour

-Too many brands from the same category during the same period

In Ramadan, however, all of these factors are present simultaneously presenting a major challenge for advertisers.

So, how can brands stand out?

1. Viewers notice sponsors
Sapience’s report finds 13% of Saudis notice when a brand is a sponsor of a particular program, which makes sponsorship a lucrative form of advertising.

2. Viewers have more choice
The fact that viewers have more choices in how and when they consume content is both, a challenge and an opportunity, for advertisers. The increasing clutter on TV and the fact that viewers do not control the airtime is leading them to video-on-demand (VOD) channels with 42% Saudis preferring VOD over TV and 32% preferring to watch the first run of a show on a VOD platform rather than TV.

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TV is King

Despite the growth of time spent online and preference for VOD platforms, “TV remains to be the largest percentage of actual spend,” says a Publicis Media spokesperson.

In fact, 18% of annual TV budgets are spent during Ramadan.

But, what’s working on TV?

MBC 1 is the leading channel followed by Rotana Khaleejiah, MBC Drama, Dubai TV and Abu Dhabi TV during Ramadan. The success of these channels is marked by the increase in viewership of TV series – versus movies, for example – which almost doubles during Ramadan.

TV series dominate over 60% of the share of rating and 74.4% share of investment during Ramadan versus 33% and 38% respectively throughout the rest of the year.

The viewership of movies drops significantly during Ramadan with the share of ratings going from 24% throughout the year to 0.4% in Ramadan, which is subsequently reflected in the share of investment dropping from 22% to 2.1%.

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Which agencies are dominating the Ramadan advertising scene?

There are five media agencies investing in Ramadan spots on TV on behalf of their clients accounting for almost half of the entire advertising budget. These are:

1. Starcom Mediavest Group

2. Initiative

3. Havas Media

4. UM

5. Mindshare

So, what worked and what didn’t?

So far, it is clear that TV is dominating the ad dollars but users’ propensity toward digital is massively increasing. It is also a well-known fact that purchases increase not only during Ramadan, but also in the days leading up to and following it. These factors combined provide advertisers with a unique opportunity to advertise to consumers who are already in the frame of mind to make a purchase.

Some advertisers choose to take a more tactical approach, while others go for brand films that are reflective of the spirit of Ramadan. But, are they?

77% of Saudis find Ramadan ads to be reflecting the past, rather than the present and less than half (46%) felt that Ramadan ads don’t properly reflect and capture the values and spirit of the month.

So, we looked at all the campaigns released this year, a total of 15, to see how many of them reflect the true spirit of the month.

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Ramadan campaign review


“The insight in this idea is that if you are going to give a gift this Ramadan then make sure it’s a gift of kindness. The world is fast becoming a more equal for women and none so more here in the Middle East and heart of the Muslim world,” explains Paul Shearer, chief creative officer, Impact BBDO. The film aims to depict equality through kids because “if kids can accept each other, no matter what sex you are, then adults should as well,” adds Shearer.

Centrepoint’s campaign made use of online and broadcast channels, using the longer version whenever possible to effectively tell the full story.


“In an uncertain time, when the world around us remains divided between “us” vs. “them”, when we’re all building walls between countries, families, neighbours, economic and social statuses and each other, Babyshop is sharing a message of unity during the month of togetherness – but, with a ‘little’ difference; encouraging us to open up our hearts, doors and minds to others by embracing its philosophy of “World Without Walls”,” explains FP7 MENA the agency behind the campaign.

Babyshop’s film was launched on YouTube and Facebook and has amassed over a million views on YouTube since its launch. The brand is also encouraging conversations around the hashtag #WorldWithoutWalls through in-store activities, on-ground initiatives, and social media.


Hyundai’s aim was to show that no matter how much time goes by, Ramadan is the same from generation to generation, and repeats the same amazing memory. Its pre-Ramadan and during Ramadan ads will be showcased both on TV and online, whereas the post-Ramadan/Eid campaign will be only digital. As part of this approach, the brand has chosen various media channels based on their popularity during Ramadan, including MBC, Rotana, Shahid, YouTube, and Weyaak, says a spokesperson from the automaker.

The campaign’s approach of Ramadan being the same from generation to generation might, however, not resonate very well with the audience with 77% of Saudis finding Ramadan ads to be reflective of the past rather than the future. One element that audiences find to be misrepresented is the idea of family and friends gathering together for iftar and suhoor and interacting with each without any tech device present. In fact, 43% Saudis said that at iftar and suhoor they’re on their phone or tablet and only 19% said they don’t engage in any other activities except eating and interacting with family and friends.

Sapience’s rankings show mixed attitudes toward the brand’s advertising. On one hand, audiences have expressed a positive attitude to Hyundai’s ads with the brand ranking No. 1 for likeability and No. 2 for uniqueness. But on the other, Hyundai lags behind with a score of 5.8 for believability and 5.2 for differentiation.

Check out part 2 here, and stay tuned for parts 3 and 4, where we explore Ramadan campaigns of big names like McDonald’s and Majid Al Futtaim. 

(This article originally appeared on our sister site Communicate)

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