While the heat continues to soar outside and summer takes its course, it’s a good time to look back on Ramadan and the best, most successful advertising of 2016. What were the most popular ads? What were the most inspiring stories? What were the most enduring campaigns? And how did purpose play a role in this?
In all honesty, we can’t deny that enormous steps have been taken forward over the past 10 years in the Middle East. The endless promotions and beautiful yet repetitious packaging designs, using traditional crescents and lanterns, are still filling up the aisles of supermarkets. And indeed, if you a marketer or builder of brands, it probably doesn’t feel like Ramadan without it.
But at the same time, the leading brands of the Middle East have really moved on from this yearly Ramadan ritual. They are taking a more mature approach to celebrate and connect with people during the holy month; embracing the meaning of Ramadan and the atmosphere, giving for the greater good by donating towards popular local causes. This preferably linked to the product category values and benefits.
Some of these Ramadan campaigns truly stand out and are just beautifully executed, managing to make a strong emotional impact in the spirit of Ramadan. Take the Pepsi #LightingUpLives campaign for example. In this campaign, people are encouraged to gather together and make doing good their personal story in order to light up people’s lives. This is illustrated by a village in the commercial itself, where Pepsi Light bottles (yes, made out of plastic) are re-used to light up and decorate the otherwise dull settlement. At the same time, Pepsi donates 1 Re towards #LightingUpLives in Pakistan for every bottle of Pepsi Light sold.
Another great example is the Samsung campaign that encourages the Middle East to #KeepRamadanShining by capturing the moment and sharing memories within the ecosystem, in order to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive for generations to come. A welcoming gesture in these fast-changing times, obviously and smartly linked to the Galaxy S7 that can help you capture these moments.
Are these campaigns beautiful, inspiring and do they bring across the Ramadan spirit? Yes.
Do we love watching them? Of course.
Will they trigger more sales? For the month itself, maybe.
Do they have good intentions and do they generate money for the right cause when aired? I would think so.
So what is the problem then, really?
My concern and question is, are these campaigns able to support or create brand equity and increase brand loyalty in the long term? And will these campaigns be able to consistently support these beautiful causes and make a meaningful impact? I don’t think so.
The effort that goes into Ramadan campaigns year after year by marketing teams and agencies alike is enormous but the impact, for the brands and for the causes selected, seems limited. Why do we have to reinvent the wheel every year? Why not make a Ramadan campaign that is lasting and actually fits in with the strategy of the brand? There is a different way to do this.
In this context, I want to point out Lipton’s #aminuteofgoodness campaign during Ramadan 2016. Lipton is a truly purposeful brand that managed to let the Ramadan campaign play a crucial role in rolling out its purpose, thereby gaining momentum at the right time and place.
To create a movement, make an impact, and create change for your brand and the world it operates in, there are four things you need to do and Lipton got it right this Ramadan. Let me explain the four elements for creating a successful, purposeful campaign:
1) Pick your fight: choose a cause that truly matters to the people you serve
Tea, although traditionally part and parcel of Middle Eastern traditions, seems to have lost its number one position as a category. It is competing heavily and defending its position against coffee, the rising star within the region, no doubt supported by the explosion of Starbucks outlets. The main tea brands in the region have every reason to fight back.
So what better way to put tea and Lipton back in the spotlight and the twenty first century context of millennials than by creating a purposeful movement? Millennials, although hardly spoken to in that manner in the Middle East, are by exception the generation that want to make so much more of their lives than just plain consumerism. They are looking for a way to contribute.
Fighting indifference in the world around us, or as expressed by the Lipton brand globally ‘don’t walk on by, be more tea’, never seemed more relevant than in a region that is so often associated with superficiality and youth floating in wealth on the one hand and destruction and war on the other. The call for action, in this genuine manner, was the right cause to pick and fight for by the Lipton brand.
It sets the famous Lipton tea brand apart in the region, and identifies it with a simple, authentic little tradition that makes one feel so much better instantly, and that is easily paid forward. A little tradition that is relevant for all, millennials included.
2) Stage your battle: fuel your fight by staging the message and events to generate lots of noise, excitement and drama
It might seem an obvious choice for many but what better stage to fuel the fight against indifference than the holy month of Ramadan? It is the best occasion to get the attention of the youth and get them not to walk on by. During Ramadan, life comes to a standstill for everyone. Day becomes night and people have time to reflect on how to make amends with themselves, their friends, family and the world around them. The perfect moment to ‘be more tea, don’t walk on by’ because during Ramadan, we go that extra mile for each other.
Lipton started the movement by calling out to millennials and pointing out that we live in a world that is more social than ever. Technology has empowered us to give our opinions freely. You can like, share and yes, even inspire actions.
Each one of us is more powerful than we think. It does not take much to do a good deed and Lipton reminded people to do just that.
3) Drive engagement and participation: make it easier for people to join in
The pace of life is imprisoning all of us. Silly hostilities can build up over the time span of a year and it’s easy to just do nothing. But we are human and humans can make mistakes.
Inspired by social experiments, Lipton and the creative agency set out to make people realize that it only takes 1 minute to do something good, about the same time it takes to brew a cup of tea. By letting people from all walks of life share their stories and shortcomings, it showed how easily they can be resolved.
With #aminuteofgoodness, the Lipton brand aimed to crowd source 1,000,000 stories of good deeds and acts by people, and create a more personally fulfilling Ramadan for people.
4) Make an impact
Lipton made an impact. In total, 2,500,000 minutes of goodness were accounted for, many more than anticipated, making the world a better place one deed at the time. I have this feeling that fighting indifference is a worthy fight for the years to come. A worthy cause that Lipton can drive, fitting for its ‘be more tea, don’t walk on by’ purpose while moving and touching the millennial generation and the generations to come.