The Arab world has a significant influence on advertising but not just in the manner most think of first. Until recently, little advertisement occurred on television as the stations owned by the government had strict control over the content. Very little advertising happened in government owned media as the government had strict ideas of what the people needed to hear and learn about often keeping the Western world out as much as possible.
The change in ownership increased the opportunity to attract more viewers, but as with all the forms of media the Arab world, or specifically the Arab religion it must meet certain requirements to avoid conflicting with religious teaching. In any society, religious beliefs influence the social, educational, economic, and other aspects of the community’s behavior. In a country such as the United States, religious beliefs do not influence the advertisements in media as much as it had previously. Over the years, the religious guidance has slipped in importance. More risqué advertisement occurs in not only what presented visually, but also the words now allowed in print and video that would otherwise be avoided. Western advertisements talk about sex and products to aid sexual activity such as contraceptives, male enhancement, and feminine hygiene products. Men and women wear little and very suggestive clothing in the advertisements selling sex as well as the product even if the product is unrelated to sex.
However, in the Arab world, religion is as important as ever and has strict rules for how to conduct one’s life from what one eats, wears, and does for entertainment. The religious guidelines direct one in all areas of one’s life and as a result, the advertisements in the area respect those rules. One would not see scantily clad women or men in advertisements in the Arab world out of respect for the laws of the land requiring men and women to cover their body accordingly. Sexual aids do not find airtime or in print materials as it is not a topic to discuss in mixed company. The cultural and religious beliefs held sacred and as such the advertisers pay heed to this out of respect.
Other religions determine attitudes towards things like political ideas, magazines, dancing, music, restaurants, and whether bars and alcohol within their society. All of these areas fall under moral standards, traditional and conservative attitudes that have significant influence in the Arab world. Since the population has a substantial number of individuals in the Islamic faith, it is in the best interest of advertisers to understand this fact and address their advertising to meet the needs of the majority of the population.
Advertising affects what products bought and sold in region and advertising pork products to Muslims or Jewish people does not make financial sense. However, it goes further than just financial sense. The Muslim population would not find the advertisement helpful and would likely find it an insult to their religious faith. Alcohol forbidden in many religious cultures and drinking alcohol can lead to severe problems within the religion and culture.
As mentioned, the Arab world has a large impact on advertising in the region as it is out of respect to the population that holds certain standards based on culture and religion dear. It is a cycle of dependency and respect for the advertisers, media, and the Arab population. Each one is dependent on the other and respects the way that it is. Through this mutual respect and understanding meets the needs of the customer and the media that relies on advertising income.