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DDB Singapore creative on viral Ramadan ad: ‘It’s a human story everyone can relate to’

The creative lead behind DDB Singapore’s Ramadan campaign for McDonald’s has spoken about the agency’s surprise as the video made headlines across the globe this week.

Firrdaus Yusoff, DDB Group’s associate creative director, told Mumbrella how the agency hoped to tell a “simple” and “thematic” story about the Muslim holy period, but that it was never intended to go viral.

After being released last week, the sentimental two-minute story of a Muslim McDonald’s delivery driver has been viewed nearly a million times on Facebook and YouTube and was picked up by Buzzfeed.

Speaking to Mumbrella about the campaign’s concept, Yusoff said: “McDonald’s wanted a spot to celebrate the beauty of Ramadan. It’s a nice brief as they were looking for a thematic piece, as opposed to a product-centric spot. So both agency and the clients were aligned from the start that the story should take precedence.”

The short video follows a McDonald’s delivery rider who wakes up before dawn to eat his pre-dawn meal with his family. He then goes about his work day, making deliveries and helping a man whose car has broken down despite the fatigue of fasting.

The ad ends with the driver making a delivery to an elderly Chinese man, who looks at the time and stops him from leaving. The old man then says in Malay: “Brother, it’s time to break your fast right?, before offering to share his McDonald’s meal.

The familiar McDonald’s tagline then appears: “Share the spirit of Ramadan.”

Elaborating on the campaign’s execution, Yussof said: “Right from the start, we knew the rider and Uncle were absolutely crucial. The rider had to feel real, relevant, and relatable. He had to be the guy you’d bump into the lift, and you wouldn’t really give a second look. Hazim (the rider) was a complete natural, and he’s also a very humble lad. Which makes his portrayal of the rider even more authentic.

“As for the Uncle, we knew he had to be old enough to speak basic Malay (most seniors in Singapore are effectively trilingual), so it makes it believable for him to know the basics of Ramadan. So Gabriel (the Uncle) was an easy choice for us.”

He added: “I’m a Muslim, so obviously it’s a topic that’s extremely close to my heart. The producers on both the agency side and the production side were also Muslims, so there’s always a sense of proper, reality checks. If a scene felt too ‘off’, we were quick to rectify. And everyone gave that respect and understanding.”

Following its release, a tweet showing the clip went viral with more than 23,000 likes and 26,000 retweets. British journalist Mehdi Hasan also jokily tweeted:

Discussing the ad’s impact, Yussof said: “It completely took us by surprise. We were not intending to PR the spot at all, so when Buzzfeed picked it up we went “Ok that’s nice”, but then it blew up. It went to Belgium, Germany and even journalists like Mehdi Hasan tweeted about it. Even the clients didn’t expect it. And they’re really happy of course.

“Everyone talked about how the story touched them. And we guess it was the simplicity of it. And how it wasn’t just a McDonald’s story or a Ramadan story, but also a human story that everyone could relate to.”

The campaign marks another continuation of McDonald’s Singapore’s ‘Share the Spirit of Ramadan’ tagline. Past commercials include:

Credits:

Creative agency: DDB Group Singapore

Group Managing Director: Melvin Kuek

Chief Creative Officer: Chris Chiu

Associate Creative Director: Firrdaus Yusoff

Associate Creative Director: Qihao Shum

Group Account Director: Zach Wong

Producer: Suriana Supaat

Production House: Atypical Films

Director: Desmond Tan

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