Zabiha Halal tackles Islamophobia with new campaign

“Sharing Halal” gives Muslim Canadians a platform to share their stories and experiences

For the past three years Maple Lodge Farms has run an advertising campaign for its Zabiha Halal line of fresh and frozen meat and chicken products during Ramadan. Each year, the “Sharing Halal” campaign has been a bright and positive celebration of what it means to be a Muslim in Canada.

But last June 6, five members of the Afzaal family were out for a walk in London, Ont. when they were intentionally run down by a man in his truck. Four of the five were killed—for being Muslim.

Pretty soon after, the marketing team at Maple Lodge responsible for Zabiha Halal knew their “Sharing Halal” campaign in 2022 would have to be different. The “Dear Canada” campaign launched after Ramadan this year and will run through Canada Day.

The cornerstone of the campaign is a two-minute video in which eight Muslim Canadians answer the question: “If you had one thing you’d like to tell the rest of Canada about being a Muslim in Canada, what would it be?”

At first, the video focuses on how proud they are: “I super love it here,” says one. But then the tone and the message changes to the ways they experience Islamophobia. The woman who “super loves it” here, recounts being called a “freak,” by a stranger in the street while she was with her five-year old son.

The campaign is an example of how many brands today are most interested in connecting with consumers about issues and concerns that are important to them, rather than a traditional hard sell of product advertising.

“This is really about having an emotional connection with Muslim consumers,” said Sarah Khetty, marketing director of Zabiha Halal. Maple Lodge Farms does product campaigns throughout the rest of the year, but “Sharing Halal” is about reminding consumers that Zabiha Halal is a partner to the community. “We see the return on that in terms of positive brand attributes… the fact that consumers identify that we represent their values.”

Zabiha Halal is the top Halal brand in Canada, in the homes of Muslim Canadians from coast to coast, she said. “That's a privilege. And through “Sharing Halal”… we just felt like we had a responsibility to make sure that we let Canadian Muslims speak for themselves to highlight the issues surrounding Islamophobia.”

To help quantify the scope of the problem in Canada, Maple Lodge also commissioned research from Leger. The study revealed that while 81% of respondents believe Canada is accepting of people with varying ethnic, cultural, and faith backgrounds, 33% of respondents admit they are concerned with the number of Muslim immigrants entering Canada; and 27% say hijabs should be banned.

Toward the end of the video, one of the speakers says: “Dear Canada, I wish you’d approach me with curiosity rather than judgement,” and another asks viewers to “Stand with us.” The ad closes with copy on the screen that directs viewers to visit to learn and share their own stories about Islamophobia.

The goal is for Zabiha Halal to be a platform that helps other Muslim Canadians share their own stories and experiences. “Because we know those one-to-one personal interactions are the best way of creating change,” said Khetty.

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