Anti-Muslim sentiments are on the rise around the world, helped in part by the activities of various terrorist organizations like ISIS and Boko Haram.
The rhetoric of the current President-elect of the United States of America, Donald Trump, who through much of the period of his campaign shared views that could be viewed as anti-Muslim, calling for a halt to all immigrants who were Muslim, brought the problem even more to the fore.
Amazon has brought out the latest ad for its Prime services and the advert, which is steadily achieving viral status, has a lot going for it. It is arguably the first advert in the United States that a Muslim cleric has been featured. A professor of advertising at Boston University, Tobe Berkovitz says as much;
“I can’t think of one. There are plenty of religious figures in televisions, especially sitcoms and police procedurals. But no ads with imams.”
The advert, which is set in England, is without a doubt really effective in both advertising Amazon Prime and shooting down anti-Muslim sentiments. It begins with an Episcopal priest opening the door for his good friend, a Muslim imam.
Two of them immediately strike up friendly banter; laughing and sharing a cup of tea. They wince at what are obviously creaky knees as they sit and stand. The two friends soon part and we see them later pulling out their phones to order something using the Amazon Prime app.
A delivery at their respective homes gives a nod to our suspicion that they were getting gifts for each other. It turns out that each had bought the other identical knee pads. At the end of the ad, the two religious leaders are shown in their respective houses of worship kneeling for prayer.
It was a carefully constructed ad made evident by the fact that Amazon does not generally reach out to the press in advance about its television ads, but did with this one. Simon Morris, Amazon’s European Union director of advertising, insisted that the ad had nothing to do with the recently concluded U.S. presidential election.
He said that work on the ad had already begun in June and Amazon producers worked with several religious groups to ensure that the ad was respectful. The lead characters in the commercial were played by actual religious leaders.