Commentary english

Ramadan is Coming, Get Yourself (and Your Content) Ready

It’s officially 30 days until Ramadan. The holy month celebrated by millions where everything feels sacred and festive at the same time.

It’s when the time you spend alone feels as rewarding as the time you spend with the others. How could it not when even taking a nap during Ramadan is considered as a good deed?

From the religious perspective, I see Ramadan as a special moment to bond with the Creator, personally and spiritually. While from other perspective, we have to admit that nothing beats Ramadan vibe. It has that special kind of warmth where everything feels calculated and predictable. For eleven months, we have been clutching onto this feeling, longing for the moment to come. And when it finally comes, the familiar feeling surge inside and rushing like a wave. 

Ramadan is magical. It brings family back together. To be practicing prayer together five times a day is the goal. But for some, spending time together as a family for two times a day, suhoor (eating before dawn to start the fasting) and iftar (breakfasting) is a rare moment they will cherish.

Like in most Indonesian household, I grew up watching television during both times with my family. For a late millennial like me, television was the main and only source of entertainment during Ramadan at that time.

Ramadan is THE prime time of the year.

Television was packed with various programs, from lecture (‘kultum’), Quran study (Tafsir Al Misbah with Quraish Shihab), documentaries (Jejak Rasul), or even tv series. If you’re a mid 80s born like me, you would’ve been familiar with Lorong Waktu, Kiamat Sudah Dekat, and Para Pencari Tuhan. All produced by the same production house, helmed by senior actor turned politician, Deddy Mizwar.

Apart from all of that, Ramadan commercials also hit different, just like Super Bowl to Americans. Brands are splurging money and creative team are racking their brain to produce the best Ramadan commercials, trying to beat each other’s last year achievement. Check out YouTube Ads Leaderboard Ramadan, an annual showcase by Google of the most popular ads screened during the Ramadan period.

If one must name a genre of Ramadan ad, what do you think it will be? For me, it’s a musical family drama. You have the music (I bet money some particular religious songs will be on heavy rotation again just like Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You during Christmas!), the touching story, and of course family as the center.

Besides television, radio was also the go-to source of entertainment during Ramadan for many people in early 2000. I remember there was a radio drama by Prambors titled BOMP (Bikin Orang Mikirin Puasa) which aired daily at 5PM. It quickly became a hit! Radio drama is not a new format, it was already popular since the 80s (remember Saur Sepuh?). But, we have to admit that Prambors made the right decision to make it as a Ramadan series. Clever strategy!

When I said earlier that Ramadan feels sacred and festive at the same time, I’m not exaggerating. It really feels that way. In between practicing Islam (fasting, daily prayers, reciting Quran, and other good deeds), you’re also exposed to curated contents from literally everywhere.

It makes me wonder, how do Gen Z or the younger generation experience Ramadan? Do they have the same excitement and collective memory about the holy month? Do they feel that Ramadan is ‘sacred and festive’, or it is more festive to them considering everything is just a tap away? Do they cling on to specific Ramadan content to accompany them in between rituals?

Do Ramadan themed content even exist or still relevant to them?

Let’s shift our focus to digital contents for a while. Looking at the Google Ramadan Playbook 2022, Gen Z or the younger generations are consuming Ramadan contents differently, but ‘watching’ still become our favourite activity. YouTube internal data shows that Indonesians are watching online videos more to accompany their celebrations, with some keywords showing a spike in search (up to 4x) during Ramadan. So rather than consuming what is provided by the channel (television, radio, social media), the digital natives took initiative by curating their own Ramadan content.

As for me, I can’t remember if there’s specific Ramadan content(s) that I have consumed in the past several years. I remembered listening to BKR Brothers podcast. They have a confession series called BKR Ngaku wherethey invited listeners and their celebrity friends to send a voice memo and confess about anything. But I don’t remember if I was deliberately search and listen to it.

I also remember watching several episodes of Pemuda Tersesat, a Youtube content series by Majelis Lucu Indonesia where they invited an ustadz to answer questions from the viewers. However ridiculous the questions were—”Is it considered riya (show off) to be breathing next to a corpse?” is just one of the example—the ustadz would still give a serious answer from the religious perspective. The program was amusing, but I’m not sure if it’s specially produced for Ramadan or just another MLI regular content.

All of this boils down to one question from me: What’s your favorite Ramadan program/ content/ commercial from last year? They can be on any platform, from TV, radio, podcast, Youtube, OTT (Netflix, etc), or even articles. If you have it, please comment below, especially if you’re a Gen Z.

As a closing, please also allow me to give a friendly reminder that it’s officially 30 days until Ramadan. So brands, creative team, and writer peeps, we’re running out of time fill up our Ramadan content bank. Produce the new ones (more is always better), update the old articles with new and relevant informations, optimise your SEO, and don’t stop social listening. If you need some additional (basic) insights, you can rely on Google Ramadan Playbook.

Ramadan kareem.