Saturday, April 28, 2007
From The New York Times…
Rewriting the Ad Rules for Muslim-Americans
By LOUISE STORY
For years, few advertisers in the United States have dared to reach out to Muslims.
Either they did not see much potential for sales or they feared a political backlash. And there were practical reasons: American Muslims come from so many ethnic backgrounds that their only common ground is their religion, a subject most marketers avoid.
That is beginning to change. Consumer companies and advertising executives are focusing on ways to use the cultural aspects of the Muslim religion to help sell their products.
Grocers and consumer product companies are considering ways to adapt their goods to Muslim rules, which forbid among other things, gelatin and pig fat, which is often used in cosmetics and cleaning products. Retailers are looking into providing more conservative skirts, even during the summer months, and mainstream advertisers are planning to place some commercials on the satellite channels that Muslims often watch.
Marketing to Muslims carries some risks. But advertising executives, used to dividing American consumers into every sort of category, say that ignoring this group — estimated to be about five million to eight million people, and growing fast — would be like missing the Hispanic market in the 1990s.
“I think Muslims have had to draw into themselves,” said Marian Salzman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of JWT, a large advertising agency in the WPP Group that plans to encourage clients like Johnson & Johnson and Unilever to market to American Muslims. “It puts an increased burden on a marketer post-9/11 to say, ‘Look, we understand.’”
[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]