Zabiha Halal emphasizes gratitude during Ramadan

The Maple Lodge brand continues to share stories of Canada's Muslim community, giving thanks for the support they provide.


While Ramadan may look different this year thanks to COVID-19, Zabiha Halal’s stories about the experiences of Canadian Muslims are still relevant, with this year’s focus placed on the gratitude for the support the community provides each other.

This year’s campaign focuses on two Egyptian Canadian families who helped one another adjust to life in Canada, tightening their bond as a result, expressing their gratitude for a deep and enduring friendship. The Maple Lodge-owned brand is urging Canadian Muslims to share their own “story of gratitude” using the hashtag “#SharingHalal” on Facebook and Instagram about someone for whom they are thankful, for the chance for both to win Zabiha Halal prizes. The brand is also going to donate $1,000 to a local food bank of the winner’s choice. 

Sarah Khetty, director of marketing at parent Maple Lodge Farms, tells strategy that the “gratitude” message is based on brand insights showing that Canadian Muslims take greater pride in being Canadian, on average, than other communities. Another aspect of the creative it wanted to highlight in the campaign is that while Ramadan is about restraint and abstention, it is also about familial bonding over food. For the documentary-feel spot, the brand tapped filmmaker Haya Waseem, whose shorts have been shown at the Cannes Film Festival and TIFF, and Khetty says that her understanding of cultural context and her lived experience as a Canadian Muslim was a “huge bonus.”

Zabiha Halal’s approach of sharing the experiences of Canadian Muslims was first developed after the polarizing 2016 U.S. election, when the brand decided it wanted to dispel misconceptions about Islam and the community here in Canada, and have Muslims do it in their own words. Last year, for example, Zabiha Halal brought a Muslim and non-Muslim family together for Ramadan to talk and ask questions of one another, with the hope that sharing these experiences would resonate across different communities.

Canadian Muslims cannot be painted with one brush, Khetty stresses, as they come from all different countries and descents, so the brand wanted to make sure it was not being too narrow with how it reaches out. “The stories are relevant to everyone,” she says.

Khetty says the brand does a lot of digital media, and that social has been “the best way to reach our consumers.” During the pandemic, especially, its focus is digital, “simply because we are an ethnic brand trying to find clusters of consumers, and that’s easier through digital.”

Maple Lodge launched Halal certified food products in 1990. Outside of its campaigns, Zabiha Halal has also tried to build a connection with Canadian Muslims through outreach to community organizations, local mosques and working through charitable organizations like Muslim Welfare Centre, which focuses on food insecurity. It has also sponsored Islamic Relief Canada and the Humanitarian Coalition, a charity which brings together Canada’s leading aid agencies to finance relief efforts in times of international humanitarian crises.

According to recent data, Muslim Canadians over-index on meat purchases, with even greater spikes during religious observances like Ramadan. Sales of Halal food exceeded $1 billion in 2017 in Canada and has continued to grow.

Riddoch Communications is the lead creative AOR, King Ursa (which Maple Lodge announced as its digital AOR in December) handles the digital side of things, while Media Dimensions and Media Profile also supported the campaign.