Did you happen to Catch TLC’s “All American Muslims,” Muslim America’s debut into the circus that is reality television? I did. I spent the hours watching TLC’s representation of American Muslims while texting back and forth with my good friend, and Tweeting about the show with thousands of other Muslims who couldn’t wait to tune in.
This isn’t meant to be a review of the show, so I’ll keep my personal feelings about last night’s episode out of it. What I DID notice is that TLC obviously gave American Muslims something we’ve obviously been craving for some time now – representation. No, I’m not commenting one way or the other about whether or not the show is a correct representation of American Muslims, but it’s definitely a groundbreaking attempt to recognize our presence in society and give non-Muslims an interesting glimpse into the daily lives of 5 families.
Regardless of how you felt about the show, make no mistake – its premiere on mainstream network television is very important. What I’m hoping is that big name brands are paying close attention to this show as well. The Muslim consumer market is woefully neglected and underrepresented.
I used to be an advertising account executive for Azizah Magazine. I would often contact mainstream brands about advertising in the magazine only to meet confused hesitation. Back then many didn’t believe their products held any appeal to Muslim consumers. Pitching companies always involved a bit of market research with a dash of dawah for good measure. I recall contacting an Ikea representative once, launching into a passionate explanation pretty much saying: “Hello: I shop at Ikea and know other Muslims who do too!”
What really impressed me were the hundreds of Muslims on Twitter who responded to the show. We showed up and let TLC know that exactly what we thought. Regardless of whether or not most people considered the show quality entertainment, you have to admit getting a prime time slot like that is a pretty big deal.
As quoted in Advertising Age:
“In the coming years, the U.S. market will likely begin to recognize and court the $170 billion purchasing power of American Muslims.” In attendance for this year’s [American Muslim Consumer’s] conference were key representatives from Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Campbell’s Soup.” (AmericanMuslimConsumer.com).
Well, it IS about time.