News From : DagangHalal.com (08 Sep 2009)
Paris – The TV commercial is unsophisticated but it has already caused quite a stir: A French-Maghrebian couple in a supermarket gets excited over ravioli and lasagne to warm up in a microwave.
Both ready-to-eat meals are halal, which means that they comply with Islamic purity requirements. ‘A small revolution,’ the paper Liberation comments on the ad, shown on public TV and aimed at a purely Muslim target group – in a country which attaches such great importance to the separation of state and religion.
Just in time for the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, the food producer Zakia has started an advertisement campaign worth some 300,000 euros (428,000 dollars).
Fasting in Ramadan only lasts as long as it is light. After sunset families gather for the breaking of the fast – but normally for elaborate traditional meals, not microwave pasta.
‘There is a slight contradiction’, a spokesperson for the company admits. ‘During Ramadan most Muslims cook at home themselves. But it is an important time for Muslims and the right moment to make our brand more known,’ he adds.
Numerous comments on the unusual commercial can be found in Muslim internet forums. ‘A commercial starring all Muslims, I like that,’ one female blogger writes. In another blog somebody notes, ‘It shows that Muslims have finally arrived in France as an economic power,’ Until now, commercials like this were only to be seen in France on foreign satellite channels.
French supermarkets have been preparing for Ramadan for a while. Big packages of Tunisian dates, dried figs or pistachios are weighing down special display tables. At the meat counter, legs of mutton and whole lambs are on offer. Alcohol-free champagne is marketed under the brand ‘Cham’halal.’
The advertising agency Solis, which specializes in so-called ‘ethno-marketing’ estimates France’s halal market in 2009 to be worth about four million euros, with an annual growth rate of 15 percent.
According to a recent survey 70 percent of Muslims in France state that they follow the fasting commandment during Ramadan – an increase by ten percent during the last two years. Approximately five million Muslims live in France, but since statistics on religious affiliation are forbidden under the principle of equality nobody knows the exact figure.
Zakia, which was originally founded in Algeria, wants to further extend its range of products in the future. ‘We want to offer recipes which are not from the Maghreb but rather European dishes, which many Muslims do not know how to prepare,’ the spokesperson says.
The commercial will be running until the big closing feast in the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr. As with every ad for ready-to-eat dishes, it is accompanied with the notice: Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day for your health.
By Ulrike Koltermann