"Very very quietly, the ultra-Orthodox market is growing and turning into a market generating close to NIS 150 million (approximately $41 million) every year, with sales reaching billions when it comes to the biggest companies on the market," says Meir Gal, co-CEO of Gal-Oren BSD , a 40-year-old company specializing in "anything wearing a skullcap", meaning the ultra-Orthodox and Religious Nationalist sectors.
"Lately, public relations and advertising courses have been very popular. This branch has been growing rapidly, a lot of money is invested in the sector and the advertising agencies and budgets have been expanding. The secular advertising world doesn't take us into account, we're not seen through his prism," Gal explains.
"What is changing is the client. You can't find one company today that doesn't work with the ultra-Orthodox sector, unless it's a company that has nothing to offer them, like Tiv-Ta'am or HOT. Unfortunately, the sector still doesn't receive the proper advertising budget according to its size," Gal continues.
Potential millionThe ultra-Orthodox market is a worthy cause for a company that has reached economic satiation and is looking for growth opportunities. This virginal ground expressed great excitement at the sight of the first ever children's catalogue, and is still gets excited from witty commercials the secular audience wouldn't think twice about. The ultra-Orthodox gladly consume any new jingle, while the general sector is busy trying to develop sophisticated repression mechanisms against them.
"Any advertising company not operating in the ultra-Orthodox market is making a mistake," says Anat Gross Shon, business and marketing manager for Tnuva, the largest advertising company in the ultra-Orthodox sector.
"There are difficulties. For example, we have a hard time advertising Yoplait since it's marketed as a 'fun' product, which means nothing to the ultra-Orthodox sector. When we try marketing to women, we have to find the family angle or health angle – why is it important for her, as a mother, to have yogurt in the house. We can't talk about how it tastes or the woman's own health, separate from that of her children. Even Tnuva's slogan – 'growing up in an Israeli home' isn't relevant for the sector. We had to change it to – 'growing up in a kosher home'".
Those who wish to advertise in the ultra-Orthodox sector must recruit the help of ultra-Orthodox publicists who are very familiar with their unique consuming habits. They know, for example, that the rental car business is blooming in the sector, because only about 40% of the families own a vehicle. They understand that telephone bills are high, since these families don't own a television. They also are aware of the fact that each family spends about NIS 200 (approximately $55) a month on plain white socks.
'A healty home' (Photo: Gal Oren Advertising)
"The secular sector doesn't know that disposable cups are one of the top ten items consumed by the ultra-Orthodox sector due to the large amount of kids," explains Yifat Toker account executive for Migzarim Advertising. "We only use milk bags, and the dominant brands in the food market are Taaman and Maya, which don't sell to the general market. The biggest player, when it comes to baby food, is Materna, dominating 28% of the market. Materna also donates to the non-profit organization Hasdei Naomi, and the ultra-Orthodox consumer appreciates that."
In order to reach this closed-off sector, advertising agencies must give the ultra-Orthodox a lot more than just advertising. CEO of Afikim Advertising, Yigal Revach, defines this as "widthwise advertising". He explains: "We sit with Osem and discuss how to develop the right products for the ultra-Orthodox market, starting with kosher food and ending with consumer habits. The client receives a package deal, including publicists and community ties, without which you can't succeed in the sector. The ultra-Orthodox ad man must be multi-talented."
According to Meirl Gal, the true strength of the ultra-Orthodox consumer lies in "massive and consistent consuming of all must-have products," he claims. "While seculars are already used to eating cereal, if you successfully enter an ultra-Orthodox home with more than two kids, it will yield three times the return. We are also the biggest baby-making sector in Israel, which automatically makes us premium diaper clients. Companies identify our potential, enter our market and can't leave it because after you take over a market of a million people it's hard to give it up."
Mikveh guerilla marketingThose searching for the ultra-Orthodox sector will find it in the printed press. Shabat and holiday papers are the main attraction, seeing as how there are no TV commercials, as there are no television sets.
There are papers, radio shows, mailing and pasquils – popular wall posters that are used as an advertising platform. The internet, which attracts many ultra-Orthodox Jews seeing as it is also used as a working tool, is still a Halachic issue (pertaining to Jewish law). Even with the "Kosher internet" allowing entrance to only certain sites, the Rabbis communications committee has instructed ultra-Orthodox ad agencies not to advertise in these sites. "We are publicists, but we are also ultra-Orthodox," Gal sighs, "Until we're instructed differently by our leaders, we can't do anything but hope."
Another issue has to do with censorship. "We encountered a problem with El-Al," Gal says, "we weren't allowed to mention the world 'couple' in Hamodia newspaper, so we replaced the phrase 'a plane ticket for couples' with 'a plane ticket for two'. We are also not allowed to advertise content services, internet websites or women hygiene products. So we figure out other ways, like using guerilla marketing in Mikvehs."
No women allowedThe restrictions in the ultra-Orthodox advertising world are many and varied. Every newspaper has its own Rabbis committee and a head censor who works for them called 'the auditor'. His is in charge of making sure the content published in the newspaper is suitable for the readers' moral values. He approves or disqualifies commercials and makes sure they are photo-shopped, incase there is any hint of femininity.
Women are not allowed to be shown at all, not even little girls. "We take security precautions because man is born evil," explains Eitan Dovkin, director of Habetzefer's haredi satellite. Publishing women's first names is also not allowed. For example, the opposition leader Tzipi Livni is referred to as Mrs. Livni and pregnancy is referred to as "the time before giving birth" or "when you are expecting".
Sports and academics are also off the table, and there is no point in advertising a shtreimel or any product with a Hasidic kosher label.
No girls allowed (Photo: Afikim Advertising)
Modesty is the bon ton of all newspapers. Foul language and slang are strictly forbidden. One can not directly speak to children, and some papers don't refer to women in singular form. Businesses open on the Shabbat will not be advertised and the Toto is also forbidden, because the soccer games are held on Saturdays.
Coca-Cola honors ShabbatThe content and language must also pass the advertising strainer. "We can't advertise on the 'Big Brother' TV show or anything with Yael Bar Zohar, they don't exist to us so they're not relevant," says Dovkin.
"Shabbat is an important value in the ultra-Orthodox world, so we can't ignore it. Coca-Cola's current campaign centers around Shabbat – one buys different drinks during the week, but on Shabbat you respect the day by drinking Coke."
"Using only the Yiddish language is not a good idea and neither is showing a skullcap in every situation. An ultra-Orthodox watching a doctor with a skullcap will think: 'Do they think I'm stupid? My doctor is secular", says Menachem Eichler, co-CEO Cultures McCann for the ultra-Orthodox sector. "But these mistakes have disappeared… it has created a very involved consumer."
Consumer involvement is also very noticeable when it comes to boycotts. McCann Erickson is still recovering from a boycott that took place 25 years ago, when their client, Bank Leumi, started building on-top of a cemetery in Tiberias after which they had to receive Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv's blessing.
The futureThe biggest issue facing publicists and advertisers is women. The woman is the bread-maker of the house, she sends the man to do the shopping and he buys whatever is on the list without asking questions. But she is missing from the advertisements.
How do you brand New-Pharm without a female character? Shabbat is once again the answer. "The woman nurtures herself for Shabbat," says Eichler. "We say to her – 'come to us and leave looking like a queen'".
Specially branded for the sector (Photo: McCann Erickson)
Toker, an ultra-Orthodox consumer herself, knows all tricks to advertising for women. "When we advertised a hospital for woman in confinement, we used a flower that looked like a pregnant woman and it was shown in all the papers. It stresses the need for a smart creative," she notes.
"Even if the ad shows a child and the headline states – 'mom says', she feels she is present. She is the children, how they look and how successful they are. When we held a focus group for Nicole, we tried to characterize the young female ultra-Orthodox consumer. As it turns out, she views hiring a maid as an audacity. This sector is willing to spend money if the right buttons are pushed, but it's hard to fool them."
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