Who: Maple Lodge Farms’ Zabiha Halal brand, with Riddoch Communications for strategy and creative, King Ursa for digital, Media Dimensions for media, and Craft Public Relations for PR.
What: “Sharing Halal” a three-part video content series about Muslims contributing to their communities, produced for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
When & Where: The content is hosted on the Zabiha Halal website and is being pushed out through YouTube, Facebook and Instagram during Ramadan.
Why: Maple Lodge director of marketing Sarah Khetty said that Zabiha Halal has very high awareness with Canadian Muslim consumers, and distribution at many major retailers. So the objective of the Sharing Halal program, now in year three, is simply to build emotional connections with consumers who already know the brand.
“As the largest halal brand in Canada, we have an opportunity to speak on behalf of Canadian Muslims and tell stories about Canadian Muslims,” she said. “We’re able to build a connection with our consumers by highlighting them and showing them how amazing they are.”
Sharing positive stories now will mean consumers are more willing to listen later in the year, when new product launches, she said.
How: Each video uses a Zoom video interview format hosted by Toronto Muslim comedian Hoodo Hersi. Each episode features Hersi going on a “road trip” to talk with three different woman about their unique work and contributions to their communities.
The idea is that they are making a meal together, although the food is the pretext for a light but informative conversation about how they contribute to their community.
The first episode features Rabiah Farhat, who started a company in Edmonton that creates decorations for Muslim holidays. In episode two, Heris meets Ilhan Abdullahi, who talks about her work with Muslim youth in Surrey, B.C., and her experience as a Black woman screenwriter. In episode three (which goes live next week), Nadia Fayad shares her story of starting Zaatarz Bakery & Sweets in London, Ont.
Years 1 and 2: The campaign’s roots go back to research on Muslim shoppers in Canada about five years ago, said Khetty.
“We asked consumers how proud they are to be Canadian, and they were off the charts in pride, but also off the charts in terms of sense of belonging. We wanted to reflect that,” said Khetty. Sharing Halal is about shared meals, but also shared stories about how Muslims contribute to their communities in important and meaningful ways.
“It’s about showcasing what is already there and lovely about the [Muslim] community, and the stories that don’t necessarily get highlighted because they are not seen as newsworthy, because bad news tends to be newsworthy,” she said.
Year one featured a Muslim and non-Muslim family enjoying a meal together and talking about the traditions of Ramadan. Year two it was a story about how one immigrant family that had been in Canada for a few years helped a newly arrived family settle in Canada, which Khetty said is a common experience across the Muslim community.
“I grew up in a household where we had random people who just moved to Canada for studies or whatever sleeping on the sofa, sometimes eating all our food. And it wasn’t until I was older that I realized how this was such a huge part of our culture,” she said.
The COVID effect: “COVID really opened our minds to different ways of working, and the consumer is more open to interviews that are happening on Zoom. We were able to do something this year [where] we went to Edmonton, and Vancouver—and I think that that’s really cool from a COVID perspective… it’s allowing us to do things that maybe we didn’t think were possible.”