Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority Promo, Case study FROM FATWA TO SMS by Hill & Knowlton


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Industry Environmental & Animal Issues
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United Arab Emirates
Agency Hill & Knowlton
Released October 2010

Credits & Description

Category: Public Sector
Account Director: Muhannad Al Badri (Hill & Knowlton)
Director of Communication & Community Service: Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa (Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority)
Project Management Office Director: Thamer Rashed Mohamed Al Qasemi (Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority)
Media placement: Press Releases: ADFCA Starts Animal Tagging - Al Khaleej Newspaper, Al Emarat Al Youm Newspaper - 5 October 2010
Media placement: Radio Campaign About AIRS And Its Benefits - Emarat FM, Holy Quran FM - Quran Al - 7 October 2010
Media placement: Interviews - Al Khaleej, Khaleej Times - 8 October 2010
Media placement: Press Releases: Fatwa On Animal Sacrifice Eases Worries - Health & Nutrition Magazine, Abu Dhabi TV, Gulf News, The Gulf Today, 107.8 Al Rabea FM - 31 October 2010
Media placement: SMS And BlackBerry Messenger Campaign - Livestock Owners And Farmers - 2 November 2010
Media placement: Media Roundtable - Gulf News, Al Khaleej, Al Bayan, Al Ittihad, Al Emarat Al Youm, The National - 20 December 2010
Media placement: Press Releases: More Than 500,000 Animals Identified And Registered - Gulf News, Al Khaleej, Ahkbar Al-Arab, The National, Al Bayan, Al Ittihad - 20 December 2010
Media placement: Press Releases: More Than 1 Milion Animals Identified And Registered - Gulf News, The Gulf Today, The National, Al Khaleej, Akhbar Al-Arab, Al Bayan, Al Ittihad - 15 January 2011
Media placement: Press Releases: More Than 2 Million Animals Identified And Registered - Gulf Today, AME Info, Al Khaleej, Al Bayan, Al Ittihad, Al Emarat Al Youm - 10 March 2011

Summary of the Campaign
When the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), launched its “Animal Identification and Registration System” (AIRS) to monitor food safety and trace food supply sources, the scheme was met with significant local resistance.

To identify the root of the problem, we obtained data from ADFCA which revealed that the resistance was based on a misperception that tagging animals would make them non-Halal and therefore unfit for consumption according to Islamic doctrine.

To overcome this resistance, we realized religious concerns needed to be met with religious reassurance.

The Government’s goal was to have 1.9 million animals tagged by the end of February 2011.

A three-pronged strategy combining traditional and ultra-modern techniques was developed and implemented:

1) We engaged the Fatwa Committee to issue a Fatwa confirming animal tagging was in line with Islamic doctrine.

2) Communication of the Fatwa to livestock owners through Imam speeches at Friday Prayers, Email, BBM and SMS. A comprehensive media outreach campaign was also implemented to maximize exposure of the Fatwa.

3) Call centre operatives were briefed and trained on appropriate messaging so they could immediately respond to concerns.

The 1.9 million tagging target was exceeded - 2 million animals had been tagged by February 2011.

The Situation
Following the AIRS launch on 12th October 2010, ADFCA’s call centre was inundated with calls expressing concern regarding the new measures.

It soon became evident that resistance to tagging was directly attributable to religious concerns. Complaints began on 18th October and escalated on 2nd November. Eid Al Adha was fast approaching (16th-18th November) and livestock owners were spreading the view that tagging wasn’t in line with Islamic doctrine, meaning animals eaten over the religious holiday wouldn’t be perfect (without blemish/wound) if tagged.

It became clear that effective communication around the benefit of animal tagging would reduce resistance in the future.

The Goal
The week following the AIRS launch, we obtained statistics from ADFCA to assess the scale of the problem, along with a list of complaints relating to AIRS made to the Government’s Call Centre, to analyze the roots of resistance.

We subsequently recommended and deployed a strategic communications programme targeted at livestock owners and consumers.


- Maximize awareness and understanding of the rationale behind AIRS’ measures

- Ensure compliance with these measures, with the goal of having 1.9 million animals tagged by the end of February 2011.

To minimize resistance and overcome cultural and time-critical imperatives, religious concerns needed religious reassurance.

The Strategy
This was clearly a complex issue that revolved around traditional resistance to change versus a government requirement to ensure the quality and safety of food in the Emirate.

Our strategy encompassed the old and the new, with a focus on leveraging understanding of local, cultural and Islamic sensitivities with both traditional and state-of-the-art communication techniques to redress the situation, minimise resistance to compliance, and maximise understanding and positive acceptance of the new scheme.

The campaign’s role was to raise awareness that meat which has been tagged is still Halal, prior to Eid Al Adha which was fast approaching.

The all-encompassing strategy included: incorporating a message in Imams’ speeches during Friday prayers at Mosques, E-mail shots, SMS, Black Berry Messenger, use of all media channels (print media, online, TV, radio), distributing informative brochures and updating the website and the government call centre with Q&A documents.

The campaign was executed from 25th October - 25th November 2010 in the UAE.

Working with the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowment, we obtained approval for a Fatwa to be announced, declaring it was acceptable to eat meat from tagged animals.

Call centre staff, spokespeople and senior executives were briefed and trained on messaging to manage potential consumer concerns.

A message was written to be delivered at Friday prayers on 12th November, outlining the benefits, safety and religious compliance of tagging animals, complemented by communicating directly with livestock owners via online media, BBM and SMS.

Using traditional media we explained the rationale and methodology behind animal tagging to reassure consumers.

Developed to meet the time constraints on resolving the issue, the campaign was planned and executed without needing to be adapted at any stage. The tools used at various stages were effective, supported by results.

Documented Results
Compliance with the new scheme was maximized - ADFCA reported that livestock owners complied with the new regulations immediately. They fully understood the huge benefits for AIRS and were supportive of the field teams.

Negative inbound calls to the Government call centre on the issue reduced by 70% within the first few days of November, from a peak of 23 on the 2nd and further reduced to an average of less than 1 a day by 15th November (on the eve of Eid Al Adha).

By 15th November, compliance was on the rise - daily tagging rose from around 6,500 animals on 15th to more than 13,000 by 20th. By the end of November, daily tagging exceeded 14,000.

The goal of having 1.9 million animals tagged by the end of February 2011 was exceeded - 2 million had been tagged by that time.