Tesco’s Eid ad has garnered a fair bit of attention this year, celebrated by industry voices and even labelled as “beautiful”. But I think it’s actually terrible. Don’t get me wrong, I commend the effort and I really like the fact that brands are taking Ramadan and Eid more seriously, but they can’t keep on getting away with these half-arsed efforts that miss the mark on so many levels and then pat themselves on the back.
Before we go into the technical reasons of where it goes wrong, let's look at the creative direction. It’s like an imported ad from India – from the choice of casting and styling to the sound design, it just feels like an ambiguous South Asian family with no real nod to British Muslim culture. When watching the ad on telly, my 22-year-old sister said: “Nah they just need to stop doing this to us."
It seems like the art direction was conjured up from a mood board of scenes from East is East, Goodness Gracious Me, and Citizen Khan – caricatures of British Muslim life but far from the dynamic realities.
From my understanding, the ad agency had diversity consultants and a “diverse” production team on the project. Still, you need creatives and strategists working on the brief from the start to authentically capture the essence of Ramadan and Eid so that we can move beyond the exotic pantomime that we typically see on screens.
The ad could’ve taken the opportunity to flaunt Muslims in the UK today, from the British Modest Fashion industry driving the latest hijab trends to the latest Ramadan craze such as the Homemade Pistachio Milk Cake (just search it on TikTok).
Instead, we have massive samosas and khussas (shoes) which hark back to stereotypical ideas and don't capture what the festivities look like today… or in the last decade. Also, who is “Ooo-mah”? That pronunciation of Umar is a joke. And the radio announcement for Eid? Maybe in 2002. Nowadays it’s WhatsApp broadcasts and tweets.
Now onto the technical stuff. The ad takes place the day before Eid, so it’s still Ramadan and people will be breaking the fast with their evening meal at approximately 8pm. For those that don’t know, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, so you break your fast as soon as the sun starts to set. But the ad makes it look like, even if not intended, the family is breaking their fast well into the night after spotting the Moon, which is all wrong.
Also, why is there a storm being cooked up this late? By this time people have already had their meals, are preparing their clothes for Eid, are out with friends in dessert parlours or maybe getting in a gym sesh before the calorie overload. I think there was someone in the team who got obsessed about the whole lunar new month thing and got carried away without thinking of its actual place within Eid. And not to forget, they depicted the Moon incorrectly – the crescent moon should be on the opposite side.
There’s more to criticise about the ad but to avoid sounding more like the Grinch, I’ll end my rant there. But a message to big brands (or agencies) engaging with Ramadan, Eid, or any other multicultural moment – don’t feel above working with the right creatives from the beginning of the process who can work with you to unlock a brand moment and create an ownable space within the festivities. Rather than this lazy stuff that’s just so wrong.
Arif Miah is creative strategy director at Mud Orange, a creative agency that helps brands engage with multicultural audiences.
Tesco declined to comment directly on this opinion column, but will be taking part in a follow-up analysis piece, to be published soon.