“We had three months to do pioneering work. This had never been done before and we really had our work cut out for us,” said Wissam Bazzi, founder of the “It’s Ramadan” commercial campaign.
In efforts of battling negative stereotypes of Islam and the rise of Islamophobia in America, Bazzi had the idea to create a national commercial with the objective of spreading the idea of the holy month of Ramadan, to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Bazzi is the owner of PixiMotion, a media production company based in Dearborn, MI, that works with Comcast. Using his network, he made a few phone calls to other local Muslim pioneers and to Comcast, and thus, the “It’s Ramadan” commercial campaign was born. Unveiling on Comcast Cable TV and online, 2015 was the first-ever commercial about Ramadan on the American media. Airing on major networks including ABC, CNN, TLC, TBS, USA, and A&E, this commercial reached various cities in three states; Michigan, Florida, and New York, receiving a total of over 436,686 American viewers.
After an overwhelmingly positive response, the campaign team is currently planning the production of this year’s Ramadan commercial, which will air on Comcast cable TV and online beginning on the first day of the holy month, June 5, aiming to reach 2 million viewers across the nation. The commercial is currently budgeted to air in six states, but the organization is hoping to reach all 50 states through donations and fundraising. They have received contributions from the Muslims, Christian, and Jewish communities.
“What’s amazing to me is when I can look at any human being and see them as a human, and that’s the strongest aspect of this commercial,” Bazzi said in a TV interview on FOX 2 – Detroit last week.
The commercial is designed to intrigue the viewer, and to tear down stereotypes, with Islamic traditions, ending by noting that these are teachings of prophet Muhammad. “This is also good for the younger generation to be proud to be Muslim and not be afraid because so many of our younger people are afraid of being Muslim publically,” said former State Representative Rashida Tlaib.
The campaign is targeting high profile Muslim men and women for the promotional videos and for the commercial. There are many American public figures that most people do not realize are Muslim, such as Tlaib, Detroit Lions’ Ameer Abdullah, Mike Tyson, Dr. Oz., and Shaquille O’Neal. With such public Muslim figures being the face of the “It’s Ramadan” commercial campaign, it will help non-Muslims be better able to relate to this person they already know, the message they are sharing, and therefore Islam. “The prophet’s name has been smeared over the last few years, so this is something for us to be able to show his name and have our children say ‘yes that’s my prophet and that’s what he stood for,’” said Sura Hassan, co-creator of the campaign.
The “It’s Ramadan” Commercial Campaign are looking for representatives in as many states as possible in order to build a strong Muslim American national network. Bazzi explained the main benefit being that if anything were to happen in the world where a public Muslim voice was needed, this national network would be able to quickly work together to put out a public service announcement (PSA) in 24-48 hours.
It’s known that Michigan has the highest population of Muslim Americans in the U.S. Thus, there are many different Muslim-based organizations working to further the cause of Islam in America; mosque youth groups, TV and radio stations, orphan organizations, etc. So, when a committee forms to create a ground-breaking national commercial, as innovative as it may be, the response for it is greater outside of the state of Michigan. “I’m humbled to say that we are working to raise the prophet’s name. On the day of judgment this is what I will have to be able to say I worked towards saving the name of our prophet,” said Bazzi.
Last Friday was the official launch of the 2016 commercial campaign and the start for any donations to be received. This launch meeting was open to anyone who wished to join to brainstorm and discuss marketing strategy, social media network, and how to spread the word on this campaign through mosques and student organizations such as Muslim Student Association on high school and college campuses. The committee is currently trying to add more cities where the commercial will be shown, though it all depends on the amount of donations received.