Zabiha Halal takes on Islamophobia with ‘Sharing Halal’ campaign

Who: Maple Lodge Farms’ Zabiha Halal brand, with Riddoch Communications for creative, King Ursa for digital, Media Dimensions for media, and Craft Public Relations for PR.

What: “Dear Canada,” the fourth iteration of the brand’s “Sharing Halal” campaign. Unlike past campaigns, which had a more joyous and celebratory tone, the focus this year is on challenging and overcoming Islamophobia in Canada.

When & Where: This is largely digital, with some out-of-home. The campaign has ran during Ramadan in the past, but because the tone of “Dear Canada” is more sombre, Maple Lodge opted to run it after the holiday. Paid media will run through Canada Day, another important moment for discussion about what it means to be Canadian.

Why: For the last three years, “Sharing Halal” has been a platform for Canadian Muslims to speak for themselves, whether it was about sharing meals with non-Muslim families, welcoming immigrants to Canada, or building a business, said Sarah Khetty, marketing director of Zabiha Halal.

But this year’s campaign was inspired by last June’s deadly attack on the Afzaal family in London, Ont. As a leading brand with Muslim consumers, the Zabiha Halal marketing team felt they had to speak out and be a platform for other Muslim Canadians who have been hurt by Islamophobic words or actions, said Khetty.

“We’re a part of the Canadian Muslim tradition,” she said. “We felt like we had a responsibility to let Canadian Muslims speak for themselves to highlight the issues surrounding Islamophobia.”

The campaign is still centred on Muslim Canadians sharing their own stories, but the stories are from real people sharing examples of Islamophobia they’ve faced.

The Data:  Maple Lodge backed up the campaign with a survey by Leger which found that 33% of Canadians are concerned with the number of Muslim immigrants entering Canada, and 27% say hijabs should be banned. Curiously, 81% of respondents said Canada is accepting of people of different faiths, cultures and ethnicities.

How: The cornerstone of the campaign is a two-minute hero video shot by Muslim Canadian director Adeel Shamsi in which eight Muslim Canadians talk to camera about their own lived experience in Canada, and how they have faced anti-Muslim discrimination and harassment.

Each participant was asked “If you had one thing you’d like to tell the rest of Canada about being a Muslim in Canada, what would it be?” The first comments focus on their pride and gratitude for being Canadian. “I super love it here,” says one. But then the stories turn to the anguish and heartache they feel stemming moments of discrimination and Islamophobia.

“Dear Canada, I wish you’d approach me with curiosity rather than judgement,” says one young woman as the film nears the end, followed by a man asking viewers to “Stand with us.” The spot closes with a super pushing viewers to visit to learn and share their own stories about Islamophobia.

Other shorter videos and social posts have been created from that shoot—“The amount of content that we had was unreal,” said Khetty—all of which will be shared using the #SharingHalal hashtag to amplify the message.

“We’re targeting Muslim Canadians so that they can add their own story and share it with their network,” said Khetty. “Because we know those one-to-one personal interactions are the best way of creating change.”

Campaign effectiveness: “This is really about having an emotional connection with Muslim consumers,” said Khetty. Maple Lodge Farms does product campaigns throughout the rest of the year, but “Sharing Halal” is about reminding consumers that Zahiba is a partner to the community. “We see the return on that in terms of positive brand attributes… the fact that consumers identify that we represent their values.”

David Brown