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Religious symbolism in Islamic financial service advertisements

Muhammad Mohsin Butt (Air University School of Management, Air University, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Ernest Cyril de-Run (Faculty of Economics and Business, University Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, Malaysia)
Ammen U-Din (Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham, Semenyih, Malaysia)
Dilip Mutum (Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham, Semenyih, Malaysia)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 11 June 2018




This paper aims to examine the impact of increasing the intensity of religious cues in financial service advertisements on target and non-target groups.


To test the proposed hypotheses, a 2 (Religion: Muslims versus Non-Muslims) x 3 (Religious identity primes: Low versus Medium versus High) factorial design was used. Both target and non-target groups were randomly exposed to factitious advertisements of an Islamic bank embedded with low, medium and high intensity of religious cues.


The results of this study indicate that within target group the manipulation did result into a more favourable attitudes towards the advertisement (Aad) and attitudes towards the brand (Ab) for the medium intensity advertisement; however, for high intensity advertisement, only Aad was more favourable compared to low intensity advertisement. Relatively strong evidence was found in case of non-target group negative reactions in term of Aad, Ab and purchase intention. The direct comparison between target and non-target groups suggest a general pattern of more positive response from target group as compared to non-target group.

Practical implications

The findings of this study provide an important insight into the effectiveness of identity salience messages in financial service marketing. The study provide empirical evidence that intensifying the rhetoric beyond a certain point will generate negative results from both target and non-target respondents.


The authors integrated the research on symbolism, social identity and target and non-target effects to analyse the attitudinal and behavioural differences between and within target and non-target groups of financial service advertisements with different intensity of religious cues.



This research is funded by the NUBS internal grant, NUBS, The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.


Butt, M.M., de-Run, E.C., U-Din, A. and Mutum, D. (2018), "Religious symbolism in Islamic financial service advertisements", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 384-401.



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