Ramadan advertising a casualty of the financial downturn

Ramadan advertising a casualty of the financial downturn
Courtney C. Radsch (Dubai, UAE)
- Spending on advertising during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, TV’s holy grail of ratings, fell compared to last year according to industry experts, whose initial optimism about the season proved unwarranted.

The industry was hoping for a recovery during Ramadan, which is typically the biggest advertising season in the Middle East, when each day people watch TV two hours more on average and indulge in food, drink and sweets for the festive dinners that break each day’s fast.

But the Choueiri Group, the Middle East’s largest media sales representation company, said advertising spend declined during Ramadan, which this year started Aug. 21 and ended Sept. 19 in most Arab countries.

“This year, the overall scene has witnessed a drop in advertising spend,” Ghassan Harfouche, managing director of Middle East Media Services at Choueiri Group, told the Emirati daily the National. He said spending fell by 25 percent.

The Middle East, especially the Gulf, has been hard hit by the global financial crisis, which hit the real estate and financial sectors, some of the biggest advertisers during the halcyon boom days, hardest.

The fall came even though most broadcasters left rates unchanged from last year’s record rates, AdNation’s Eliot Beer told me.

“From people I’ve spoken to in the market it seems to be down, some suggest a drop of 20-30 percent overall would be about right for the TV market,” said Beer.

Many regional companies devote more than half their budgets to buying ad time during Ramadan, with TV dominating the advert buys. And the month typically accounts for about a third of annual advertising revenues for leading television broadcasters.

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About Cortney C.Radsch

Courtney C. Radsch is a scholar and freelance journalist who focuses on the Arab media and politics. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. Ms. Radsch is writing her dissertation on the Arab media's influence on foreign policy and has done fieldwork in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. Her research has also looked at the ideology and politics behind Islamist extremism. Ms. Radsch is an internationally published journalist and previously worked at the New York Times and the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon. She holds an M.S. in International Relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and a B.A. in Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley.

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