BBH London’s Ciara Boyle and Chloe Neal on the Iftar campaign which celebrates and collaborates with the Muslim community, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani
Celebrating Ramadan 2022, British supermarket giant Tesco has acknowledged the Muslim community by not only creating a campaign to celebrate Iftar (the breaking of fast) but also by collaborating with diversity and inclusion consultancy The Unmistakables. In its newest campaign, the food retailer uses digital billboards to create the illusion of plates filling up with food, but only as the sun sets and the Muslim community can break their fast.
This innovative and inclusive campaign includes videos that are specifically set to play as the sun begins to set, the position of the billboards have been considered to compliment the direction of the sun and it also includes a collaboration with Muslim cooks, photographers and consultants. With a focus on London’s borough of Brent, as well as Birmingham and Bradford, part of Tesco’s strategy focuses on areas with a large Muslim population, to ensure three hours of uninterrupted footage in their chosen billboard locations.
In conjunction with Tesco’s Race and Ethnicity Network, who supported the campaign, and with a variation of 49 minutes between sunset times throughout the Ramadan period, it’s always at the exact moment of sunset where the plates on the billboard reach their capacity. The food retailer also ensured no alcohol or other food adverts were displayed nearby, to make the campaign both effective and respectful during the religious period.
BBH London’s art director Ciara Boyle and copywriter Chloe Neal speak to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about the campaign.
LBB> What was the initial idea behind this year’s Ramadan campaign for Tesco?
Ciara & Chloe> Ramadan is one of the biggest events in the UK, with nearly four million people observing yearly. But you wouldn’t think it if you looked at UK advertising. So we wanted to mark the month of Ramadan in April. That’s how we came up with ‘Together this Ramadan’, a campaign that shows empty plates during the day when the community is fasting, which then fill up once the sun goes down, signifying the end of the daily fast with the Iftar meal. This is an industry first to create a campaign of this scale that specifically celebrates Iftar.
LBB> How did the idea of a transitional billboard first get mentioned?
Ciara & Chloe> We knew that we wanted to transition from empty plates to full plates from the very start. This was inspired by fasting during Ramadan, which takes place from sunrise until sunset, when people break their fast with an evening Iftar meal. As the UK’s biggest supermarket, removing food from its ads throughout the day was a bold move for Tesco. This transition is simple, but powerful.
LBB> How did it develop from there?
Ciara & Chloe> We had two visuals in mind, one with empty plates and one with full plates. These would become aerial shots, with hands passing around plates to evoke the sense of togetherness that’s so central to Ramadan. In order to ensure authenticity in terms of imagery, recipes, food and messaging, we worked closely with diversity and inclusion consultants, The Unmistakables, as well as photographer Khalil Musa and food consultant Dina Macki, who are both practising Muslims. Part of the cast was selected from Muslim colleagues within the Race and Ethnicity Network at Tesco, who we also consulted with throughout the campaign development.
LBB> How long did it take to create all of the material for the campaign?
Ciara & Chloe> The campaign took a total of five months to bring to life, in time for the first day of Ramadan on April 2nd this year. This encompassed regular consultations with members of the Muslim community, sourcing authentic recipes and styling, and timing the transition of each billboard to the precise time of sunset, which varies depending on where they are in the country.
LBB> Once you solidified the idea, how did you decide on West London, Birmingham and Bradford as locations?
Ciara & Chloe> We partnered with MediaCom and Kinetic in the making of these billboards and used TGI data to select locations with high Muslim populations so that the campaign would speak directly to the community. Each billboard is east-facing to accentuate the full effect of the sun setting behind, signalling the breaking of the fast and the plates filling up. The billboards in West London, and Birmingham can be seen throughout Ramadan, for the whole month, this April.
LBB> We’d love to hear about how the billboards work. Are they on a timer, or looped to play at the same time? How did you ensure the video coincided with the sunset?
Ciara & Chloe> Each billboard is timed to the exact sunset in that particular location, as sunset times change by 49 minutes across Ramadan, with Bradford eight minutes and Birmingham six minutes later than London. Each site is set to animate from empty to full plates at the exact moment of sunset, when the fast can be broken. MediaCom also ensured that our DOOH sites were not in proximity to other Tesco Food advertising, or any alcohol adverts, to be as culturally sensitive as possible to the community we were speaking to. Block-booking the sites for three hours every evening in our media plan also helped with this.
LBB> You were mindful to consult with people from the Muslim community to create this Iftar experience. Why was this important and what did it bring to the campaign?
Ciara & Chloe> It was extremely important to us that we consulted people from the Muslim community every step of the way, to ensure we were telling an authentic and relatable story. From the table setting, to the colour of plates, to the phrasing of the headline, we wanted to convey the special, sacred, and joyous nature of Ramadan and Iftar.
LBB> Inclusion was at the heart of this campaign, can you tell us about the partnerships that made this possible?
Ciara & Chloe> At its core, this is a campaign created by and for the Muslim community. Inclusion and representation were key priorities for us throughout the project. From the campaign’s inception, we consulted with The Unmistakables on the message we wanted to deliver. We also worked closely with Khalil Musa, who shot our campaign, and Dina Macki, who created the entire Iftar feast with flair, to ensure authenticity.
LBB> How has the campaign been received so far? Have there been any memorable reactions?
Ciara & Chloe> The response has been incredible. This campaign has sparked conversation amongst both Muslim and non-Muslim communities across the UK and further afield. It’s been shared by numerous publications with a combined reach of 10.4 million in the UK, France and Turkey, with lots of positive sentiments across social media.
Content creator Tazeen Dhunna, who also works with The Unmistakables said, “This is the first time in four decades, since my parents came to the UK, that we’ve ever had this level of representation by any huge retailer. And I think it was a moment of, wow, how could we have been unseen for so long?”
LBB> Would you like to share anything else?
Ciara & Chloe> We want to say a huge thank you to Tesco for collaborating with us on such an important project, and to the wider production and media teams for their attention to detail and efforts in bringing this campaign to life.