I miss the Eid of my childhood – carefree and fun. Surrounded by family, my Dadi’s sheer khurma on the table, the gleeful collection of Eidi and the new clothes. The morning of the first day was open house for neighbours and counter visits, executed with carefully calculated speed. Then off to both sets of grandparents. The second day was a series of frenetic visits to family and friends. The third day was more relaxed with family friends dropping by. The single channel focused on Eid festivities – and themed dramas and brands hadn’t yet cottoned on to seasonal marketing. The simple life.
Since then Eidi has somewhat depleted with me becoming the Eidi giver and the 100 rupees received 30 years ago, now translate to a 1,000 given out. Family and friends have left in droves for greener shores and while I do welcome the general peace of the holiday season with one requisite family lunch and a few visits, I miss the warmth and simplicity of the occasion. And the deepest cut of all – not noting down the recipe of sheer khurma from Dadi before she passed.
For many, Eid is now a time to switch off and catch up on sleep and Netflix shows, to moan and groan about ridiculously priced Eid outfits (more so, if there are children involved) and navigate traffic for the compulsory visits.
Post the five-day Eid break this year, it strikes me that brands appear to have become as jaded about the season as I have. The honeymoon period of beautifully crafted soulful Ramzan advertising, of the genuine positive spirit of cause marketing which P&G excelled at, is over. Gone are the days when Ramzan was a time for Pepsi’s Litre of Light, Ariel ‘Help The Needy’, Pampers ‘UNICEF’ or Coke’s collab with Edhi. Today, price promotions rule the day. Perhaps reflective of the desperate cynical times we live in.
But even in this sea of self-indulgence (redone soulful song – check, celebrity de jour – check; high-end beautiful execution – check) there is an alternative route. At this time, more than any other, the economic malaise offered an opportunity to do something truly meaningful and directly connected to Ramzan – and to the consumer. Brands could have found a relevant cause, linked sales to raising funds for a credible organisation and put it together in an emotional framework. Then consistently stick to the same idea not just for Ramzan/Eid ul Fitr, but extend it to Eid ul Azha. Take a leaf out of P&G’s classic formula of cause marketing – it worked for the brand in building business and in creating a softer image, all the while genuinely contributing to a social cause. Far more effective than short-term price-off promos.
The only brand that came close this season was Coca-Cola’s collaboration with Rizq. It was a painfully pertinent cause given the food anxiety and skyrocketing inflation. I just wish the communication around it had been more substantive and focused on raising awareness around the cause, the brand’s contribution to it and the uplifting end at Eid and the final result.
Or perhaps it’s time to take a leaf out of Britain’s legendary Christmas advertising which is wholesome, heartwarming and entirely memorable with great storytelling. Why not create two different tracks of communication for the season? Cause marketing for Ramzan and warm, feel-good stories for Eid. And give people something to celebrate over the three-day break.
Meanwhile, if someone has a great sheer khurma recipe please send it my way. You will be blessed.
Rashna Abdi is CEO, Vitamin C. firstname.lastname@example.org