Many brands, bloggers, and advertising agencies occasionally use religious themes and visuals in their ads and social media; all to provide a quick and recognizable cultural reference and attract more users or potential customers.
Even though religion is an increasingly sensitive topic, it is still not forbidden to be used in advertising or any other promotional materials. And, despite the high chances of drawing negative attention, many brands and individuals are willing to take risks to reach a wider audience, drive more engagement, and stand out.
While common sense and caution can help create ads that don’t offend, religious references are still a slippery way to promote someone or something. To avoid complaints or legal problems, it is best to be aware of all the dos and don'ts of this sensitive topic and use high-quality, licensed visuals, e.g., download files from https://depositphotos.com. Therefore, in this article, you’ll find five tips on incorporating religious imagery into your ads or projects without offending anyone. Read on to find out more!
The first thing anyone should dobefore using symbols or representatives of any religion, belief, or practice in advertising is to carefully research that belief and the subject of reference. Such delicate topics need to be double-checked by multiple people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexes. Some people creating these ads may be unfamiliar with faiths other than their own or adhere to no religion. Therefore, the more diverse people you can involve in the process, the less likely it is that inappropriate or objectionable content will be created.
Most Muslims, for example, find images of the Prophet Muhammad or any other Islamic prophet insulting. This is because depicting Islamic prophets is considered an insult to Allah and Muhammad, as using their images can encourage idolatry.
To prevent using prohibited symbols or pictures, research cases of brands or individuals who have already utilized the religion you want to use in your commercial. This way, you can save time and learn from the mistakes of others.
User research is one of the most crucial things to do when starting a new project. Identifying and getting to know your target market allows you to determine whether your audience is perceptive or easily offended by religion-related projects.
You must first outline your research objectives in order to perform successful research. Then, decide who needs to be interviewed. To be on the safe side, survey both users and non-users. Following that, create a comprehensive list of questions covering the issue broadly, conduct interviews, and summarize your findings.
Everyone seems to understand it, yet it still has to be said out loud. Marketers should avoid using religious imagery or symbols to promote products incompatible with religious beliefs or practices. These include alcoholic beverages, gambling, and sex toys. Making fun of religious beliefs or subjects important to faith is equally likely to be considered offensive.
The fundamental ethical code of Buddhism, for example, forbids killing living beings, stealing, sexual misbehavior, lying, and intoxication. Therefore, placing pictures of people praying to Buddha, or Buddha in general, in gambling advertisements would be offensive to people who follow that religion.
It is a common practice followed by many comedy shows to add disclaimers to the visuals; all to let viewers know that the content they are about to watch is for entertainment and not intended to offend anyone. You may also include text stating that all characters are fictional or that there are no references being made.
To make sure everyone is on the same page, survey a diverse group of people who fall into the category of your potential customers. There have been many situations in which a creator means one thing, but people interpret it in a completely different way. Therefore, ask others for their opinion to see whether everyone gets the same message. This is a great precaution to take, as they will inform you about the problem in advance.
The topic of religion is certainly not off-limits to advertising, especially when it comes to representing a customer’s identity or product through cultural references or light-hearted humor. However, everyone, from brands and content creators to bloggers and influencers, should be careful and avoid including anything that might mislead, harm, or offend individuals with religious beliefs. Use this list whenever you plan to include prayer, religion, or any other sensitive topic in your promotional materials.