An ad released this week by Amazon tells the story of friendship between Christian and Muslim clerics was created as a response to the rhetoric of the recent US presidential election. The two men in the ad are not actors, but an actual Anglican vicar and an Imam.
Fortune says that the ad appears to be a response to the 2016 presidential campaign.
While the ad is designed to promote the company’s Amazon Prime membership, its theme suggest it’s trying to achieve far more than additional Prime memberships. The ad features a priest and imam having a pleasant conversation over tea. As the the imam prepares to leave, both men remark at their sore knees, share a hug, and part ways. Afterward, they both take out their smartphones and buy the other knee braces through Amazon Prime.
The ad ends with both the priest and the imam kneeling to pray while wearing the knee braces they received from the other via Amazon Prime.
Soon after its release on Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted the video and said he was “proud” of his advertising team for creating it.
According to USA Today, this may be the first television advertisement in the US to feature an Imam.
The most surprising thing about Amazon’s latest ad for its Prime service is that it appears to be the first time a Muslim cleric has been featured in a television ad shown in the United States.
“I can’t think of one. There are plenty of religious figures in televisions, especially sitcoms and police procedurals. But no ads with imams,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a professor of advertising at Boston University….
…While Muslims are a small minority in the United States, making up just under 1% of the U.S. population, there are 3.3 million of them and there have been Muslim communities in the country for decades.
Despite that, advertising professors and historians had to think hard about whether an Islamic religious leader had ever been depicted in an ad.
“We certainly have used priests, nuns, ministers, rabbi’s and many other clerical types, but I have no memory of a Muslim Cleric ever being used,” said John Verret, who worked in advertising for 40 years and now faculty advisor to the Boston University AdLab, a student-run advertising agency.
The ad features a real-live Anglican Vicar and Imam. The producers sought technical help from a variety of religious sources, says the Mirror:
It stars a real priest – Rev Gary Bradley, the vicar of Little Venice – as well as Zubeir Hassam, the principal of the Muslim School Oadby in Leicestershire.
Amazon sought advice from the Church of England, the Muslim Council of Great Britain and the Christian Muslim Forum over the TV campaign.
Morris added: “We wanted to get the story right because we were aware it might seem a sensitive subject to some people.
The lead characters in the commercial are played by actual religious leaders. They are Gary Bradley, vicar at St Mary’s and Paddington Green in London and Zubier Mohammad, principal of the Muslim School Oadby in Leicester, Morris said. The advertisement was filmed at two churches, St. Dunstan and All Saints Stepney Church in London, and at the East London Mosque.
The ad is scheduled to initially run in Great Britain, the United States, and in Germany.