Ramadan Branding: McDonald’s, Pepsi, Coca-Cola Craft Localized Campaigns

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Pepsi Ramadan

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of both Ramadan and the beginning of brand campaigns to appeal to the millions of Muslims worldwide who have spent a holy month fasting. In fact, Eid tradition explicitly disallows fasting on the day. No wonder then that some of the most popular and high profile of the Ramadan-themed brand messages are for foodstuffs.

Ramadan brand messaging begins with the global master, McDonald’s. Last year in examining McDonald’s Ramadan campaigns, brandchannel declared it “a brand with its fingers on the pulse of doing Ramadan marketing the right way.”

And for good reason. McDonald’s doesn’t just run a tight Ramadam campaign every year. It runs tight Ramadan campaigns in a slew of nations worldwide, each tailored to that particular nation’s culture and way of celebrating.

From Kuwait to Malaysia to Pakistan, McDonald’s operates individual websites featuring local Ramadan specials and promotions. McDonald’s Arabia offers a free printable template to make your own Ramadan lantern; the lantern is tastefully marked with the Golden Arches of course. In Pakistan, McDonald’s Eid treats include “Deal for One” and “Deal for Two.” In Malaysia, McDonald’s Ramadan deals are accompanied by a nostalgic and touching memories of what it was like to be new to fasting. One might call it almost Norman Rockwelian. Neighboring Singapore has its own Ramadan campaign commercial.

McDonald’s success balancing commercial messaging during the holy period is harder than it looks. Brands like DKNY and Mango have seen less than great results with “Ramadan collections” in recent years.

Alongside McDonald’s with tight Ramadan messages are global soda leaders Pepsi and Coca-Cola. This year Pepsi highlighted the travels of its renewable bottle while Coca-Cola got nostalgic… about its 2015 Ramadan campaign. That campaign—“Remove Labels”—received millions and millions of views.

Like McDonald’s, localizing Ramadan messages is key. Pepsi produced a short, feel-good musical for Pakistan.

Snapchat does not make food. But it does make the next best thing by offering an Eid Eats filter to help foodies celebrating Ramadan properly do their food selfies.

In Egypt, telecom brand Orange went with a musical series, proving holidays are hectic and fun no matter where or what they are.

Telecom competitor Zain skipped the humor for more sincere and whimsical Ramadan series.

Did somebody say telecom brand musicals? Then Vodafone Egypt has got something for you!

Meanwhile Pakistan’s Q Mobile has made everyone in that nation cry with its somewhat controversial ad “Be Proud of Your Daughter.” The short film, about a woman who wants to become a cricket player, is striking a chord in a nation whose modern ideas of women’s rights and equality are a constant controversy.

Western Union—a way of life in many predominantly Muslim countries with large non-native worker populations—launched #30daysofbetter campaign aimed to “make a difference by sharing your good deed with the community today.”

Cadbury was just one of many brands targeting India’s large Muslim population with its message of family and chocolate.

Ice cream brand Wall’s proves that it can do fun and light in one Ramadan market while punching viewers in the Ramadan feels in another market.

For more on opportunities for brands during Ramadan, read the report Ramadan in MENA: The Digital Opportunity for Brands.

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