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Religiosity and Egyptian Muslim millennials’ views on offensive advertising

Jonathan A.J. Wilson (Regent's University London, London, UK)
Nihal I.A. Ayad (College of Management and Technology, Arab Academy for Science Technology and Maritime Transport, Alexandria, Egypt)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 12 August 2021

Issue publication date: 1 December 2022




This paper explores reasons behind Muslim fervour, in response to advertisements that cause them offence – where marketing promotions and brands are seen to contradict or challenge the tenets of their religion (Islam) and culture.


The authors investigate Egyptian Muslim Millennials’ perceptions post 2011 Egyptian Arab Spring revolution qualitatively – through a series of iterative focus groups, diaries, and laddered coding procedures.


In contrast to the way in which media stories regularly highlight this phenomenon locally, internationally, and inside and outside of the Muslim world, we find that the landscape is more cultural, contextual, dynamic, politicised, and subtle. In addition, religiosity may not in fact be the determining factor and its presence is much more nuanced. The socially mobile, educated, and digitally connected Egyptian Muslim millennial demographic, that grabbed headlines during the Arab Spring for their influence, were found in this study to describe offence as being annoying or provocative advertisements where the message, theme or execution disregards their intelligence. Furthermore, parents, access to basic utilities, and having a stable living environment command a greater influence than religiosity for them. Finally, an environmental paradox exists, where restricted living conditions juxtaposed in parallel with escapism offered by social-media consumption, leads millennials towards being more accepting of advertising that could be classified as offensive.

Practical implications

This study is of value for researchers, educators, and professionals in the fields of advertising, marketing communications, consumer behaviour, and sociology.

Social implications

The observations raise questions concerning how the media reports stories, or advertisers conduct their campaigns – as to whether they are representative, motivated by sociopolitics or propaganda, an intended tactic, highlight unintended poor execution, ambivalence, or part of a wider phenomenon.


The authors present a new dual-process personality/religiosity conceptual model – designed to explain the stepwise process of Muslim opinion-forming, behaviour, and consumption of advertisements. Furthermore, we illustrate this with a supporting allegory the authors call a “Narnia paradigm”, drawing from C.S. Lewis’s fictional story “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.



Wilson, J.A.J. and Ayad, N.I.A. (2022), "Religiosity and Egyptian Muslim millennials’ views on offensive advertising", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 13 No. 12, pp. 2759-2777.



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