Ogilvy Noor's Vice President, Shelina Janmohamed, has been named a Digiday Changemaker 2017. The list recognises 50 individuals changing the business of digital media and marketing.

Nominations were made by Digiday's editorial team for their contributions to the changing business of digital media and marketing. The list recognises those who have created better ads, proven diversity is not a passing fad and made sustainable fashion chic, among many other diverse achievements.

Alongside the other Digiday Changemakers, Shelina will be honored at an invitation-only event in New York on 7 June.

In 2005, Shelina Janmohamed was working as a marketing trainee and product manager when the London bombings happened. “That felt really personal,” says the born-and-bred Londoner who is ready to fight anyone who tries to tell her that London isn’t the greatest city in the world. She started a blog about her experiences as a Muslim Brit, which then got turned into a book. “Love in a Headscarf,” published by Penguin, was released in 2009 and translated into 10 languages.

That unlikely beginning got her thinking about the underrepresented Muslim customer, something that she says led all universes to collide for her current role as vice president at Ogilvy Noor, the ad agency’s Islamic brand consultancy that wants to teach brands how to sell to the Muslim customer.

“The primary challenge has been to explain an audience that Muslims buy stuff,” she said, only half tongue-in-cheek. “I know, right? Like, we buy food and soap, and we travel.”

The second is to teach brands where on the spectrum they want to be when it comes to this: So if a hotel wants reach to some of the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world who spend $2.3 trillion a year, it can do so with something as simple as a menu for Ramadan. “We have to get over many of the ideas of what this means,” she said. “We’re not talking about religiosity. We’re not promoting a faith. We’re talking about the lifestyle, an audience that lives a certain way.”

For Janmohamed, this journey is just beginning. A happy side effect is showing other Muslims, especially women, that they can work in the marketing industry, and there is space in there.

“Young people have to overcome the worries that parents might have about an industry that doesn’t have a typical career path,” she said, “and how some stuff in the agency world may conflict with their values about some of the industry’s out-of-hours activities.” But the biggest thing for Janmohamed isn’t that she happens to be a Muslim woman working in Muslim branding. The excitement is in how huge the opportunity is here for this industry. “It’s like the biggest story of our day. Why wouldn’t anyone want to do this?” — Shareen Pathak

 

See the full Digiday Changemakers - Marketing list here.

Find out about Ogilvy Noor's latest book, Generation M, written by Shelina here.