Zain’s viral Ramadan ad gets mixed response [VIDEO]

By @chelean on
A man reads the Koran in a mosque during the fasting month of Ramadan, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 29, 2017.
A man reads the Koran in a mosque during the fasting month of Ramadan, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 29, 2017. Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser

An ad for Ramadan by Kuwait-based telecom Zain has gone viral, getting mixed reactions from people who either think it’s inspiring or it’s exploitative. The 3-minute video uses images of victims of violence.

Since Zain launched the ad on Friday, the video has amassed over 3.5 million views on YouTube. It begins with alternating scenes of children playing soccer, an old man adorably kissing a baby’s feet, a couple preparing for their wedding, and a suicide bomber making the destructive weapon. As the bomber enters a bus, he notices the other occupants appear to be his victims. Everywhere he goes, the people he sees have already been hurt.

“I will tell God everything,” a young boy says. “That you’ve filled the cemeteries with our children and emptied our school desks. That you’ve sparked unrest and turned our streets to darkness.”

The man is now hounded by the victims, who implore him to worship without resorting to violence. The video later shows footage from terrorist attacks in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which are countries where Zain conducts business, according to the New York Times. It also features images of a bride who survived an attack in Jordan, a father of a son killed in Baghdad, and a man who survived the Shiite mosque bombing in Kuwait.

The video has garnered mixed responses from social media, with some praising it for its positive message. There were those who think it sends a powerful message of peace.

However, others don’t see it as an altruistic move from the company. They compare the ad with the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad for apparently using terrorism imagery to sell products. The critics also took offence at the company’s use of Omran Daqneesh, a 5-year-old Syrian boy who gained media attention after footage of him dazed and injured in an airstrike appeared online.

Ramadan, which began Friday, is a month-long event for Muslims to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran (the Islamic bible) to the prophet Muhammad. According to CNN, the period is comparable with the Super Bowl season in the US and Christmas for advertising companies. Companies take advantage of the viewers’ TV consumption during this period. Zain’s annual commercial is said to be one of the most anticipated of the season.

Watch Zain’s controversial Ramadan ad: