While the horrific results of their work are too often in the news, rarely has a suicide bomber been used as a marketing device. Kuwait-based telecom Zain‘s new Ramadan ad, however, features one being stopped by his potential victims preaching peace over violence, and it’s already gone viral in the Middle East.
As the suicide bomber prepares to murder innocent people, a young narrator says, “I will tell God everything. That you’ve filled the cemeteries with our children and emptied our school desks. That you’ve sparked unrest and turned our streets to darkness.”
Later on in the three-minute film, United Arab Emirates pop star Hussain Al Jassmi sings, “Let’s bomb violence with mercy/Let’s bomb delusion with the truth/Let’s bomb hatred with love/Let’s bomb extremism for a better life.”
The ad also features actual people from, and footage of, past terrorist attacks in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. That, and the ad’s allusion to Omran Daqneesh, a boy who survived an airstrike by the Syrian government last year. Jordanian human rights worker Rawan Da’as disagreed with the association, telling The New York Times, “They put Omran as if he suffered from terrorism, while he suffered from the regime. It is not nice that you take things out of context and say that little boys in Syria are suffering without talking about why they are suffering.”
— Rawan Da'as (@RawanDaas) May 28, 2017
It’s not the first time advertising has been proposed as a tool against terror. Back in 2015, the U.S. government enlisted the help of a group of American ad agency execs with an aim to use their skills to counter online radicalization. It’s risky subject matter to tackle, but when approached with the kind of care it’s given here, the message has clearly resonated with many.