How Compliant With Islamic Law Is Your Company? (Do You Even Want to Know?)

Last Updated Nov 5, 2010 6:13 PM EDT

Lipton, the tea company owned by Pepsico (PEP) and Unilever (UL), is the most Muslim-friendly brand in the world if a survey by Ogilvy Noor, an experimental ad agency that specializes in Islamic marketing, is to be believed. Banks such as RBS -- which charge interest, which is against shariah law -- is one of the least, the same survey said:


Ogilvy, owned by holding company WPP (WPPGY), believes that being a first-mover in targeting Muslims will pay dividends down the road: There are nearly 2 billion Muslims on the planet and they're often ignored by advertisers who don't understand them or don't want to offend them.

Ogilvy's index should be taken with a pinch of salt, however. Of the 10 most Muslim-friendly brands, the top six are Ogilvy clients. What an amazing coincidence! Also, the index doesn't say how many people were polled to create the ranking but Ogilvy nonetheless claims:

The results are considered a representative demographic sample of the nearly 1.8 billion Muslims living in 57 countries in the world.
Food and beauty brands like Nestle and Lux dominate the list, and that's no coincidence, Ogilvy notes:
Physical, everyday usage makes halal non-negotiable. The closer a category is to the human body, and the more regular its consumption, the more it must be completely Shariah-compliant.
It will be interesting to see how enthusiastic Nestle (NESN), Kraft (KFT) and Procter & Gamble (PG) are to tout their shariah compliancy, given how fearful American consumers are of the idea that shariah will become the norm in the U.S. (Sarah Palin was recently forced to deny that she had endorsed the idea that President Obama is a "Taliban Muslim," for instance, even though many of her supporters clearly believe he is.) You can easily see how any company that makes even the slightest overture towards making its products halal takes a huge risk with its American consumers: Ignore the market and, well, you're ignoring a market. Pay heed and risk the wrath of the non-Muslim world.

Managers at Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestle, Ford Motor, and American Express have already paid the $9,400 fee for a full copy of Ogilvy's report.

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