This image of McDonald’s famous Golden Arches — the ne plus ultra of a Western brand — looks jarring in Arabic script.But in the Middle East and parts of Asia, that’s McDonald’s all-American brand.
Unsurprisingly, Islamic advertising is different in Muslim countries. In ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, women often don’t appear in ads and when they do only their eyes may be showing.
In Indonesia, however, ads are more playful and female characters often bare a similar amount of flesh as they do in the Europe.
Here’s a look at several campaigns from big, international brands that have specifically Muslim pitches for their brands.
Change is a lingerie and swimwear brand. This launch ad was intended play off censorship in Saudi Arabia and 'to transform censorship into art.' The ads were in English to target an upscale bilingual audience. The agency was Ogilvy Jeddah.
In Indonesia, cats smell as bad as they do in the West. This poster is for Bubbles 'cat cologne.' The agency is Grey, Indonesia.
How do you stage a beauty contest in Saudi Arabia, where women are rarely allowed to show their faces? Olay solved that problem with this search for the 'most beautiful eyes in Arabia.' (The winner, below, received a trip to London.)
And here's the winner. You have to admit, she has awesome eyes:
Coke's ads in Pakistan play off the highly decorated buses and trucks that ply the streets there. Agency: Soho Square, Lahore.
This doesn't look very appealing to Westerners, but when you live in a desert kingdom like Saudi Arabia, where water is scarce, it comes across differently. Agency: Leo Burnett, Jeddah.
Arab advertising is often unafraid to play to stereotypes. Here, a keffiyeh-wearing desert nomad warms his hands at night over a spicy chicken sandwich from Kudu, a chain restaurant.
This bus in Iran was dressed as a tiled floor with fleeing germs for Domestos bleach. Agency: Point of View, Tehran.
This ad was one of a series for Saudi Arabia's Invision Interactive TV which played on the idea that television causes chaos—unless you can control it. All the characters in it were men in Eastern garb. Agency: Leo Burnett, Saudi Arabia.
This was part of a campaign for Kushbu, a fashion line based in the U.K. which sells 'Islamic Wear' online. Even covered women care about their appearance.
This joke in this ad for Pattex super glue is that in Egypt, men and women have traditionally carried heavy loads on their heads. Agency: TBWA Cairo.
The message here is that Samsung appliances spin clothes so thoroughly they will vomit out their dirt. Agency: FP7, Dohar, Qatar.
This ad displays a sense of humour about Islamic observance. It's for Nandos spicy chicken, and it shows a starving man who can barely wait for the sun to go down during Ramadan so he can eat. Agency: Tonic International, Dubai.
Yes, some Muslims in Qatar have Persian-style rugs. Champion Spray On Fresh will stop them smelling like sheep. Agency: Grey, Dubai.
Not every Muslim country expects women to cover in pop culture. This ad is for Soy Joy, a non-dairy fruit snack, in Indonesia. (Does Disney know what its princesses are up to in Asia?) Agency: Dentsu Indonesia.
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