Marketing and Advertising in Iran

Marketing and Advertising in Iran

Iran’s impressive development stands out as a remarkable achievement given the immense weight of economic sanctions that the country has faced. With a higher Human Development Index than some European nations, Iran ranks among the most highly developed countries in Asia, offering many opportunities for businesses looking to establish or expand their presence in the region.

Iran is a country with a complex and diverse culture, and understanding its unique background is essential for achieving marketing goals in the region. This includes gaining insight into the country’s beliefs, history, records, trends, and traditions.

By paying attention to the nuances of Iranian culture and market knowledge, businesses can better connect with local audiences and build meaningful relationships that drive success.

History of Advertising in Iran

The history of advertising in Iran dates back to the Qajar era, where the terms “Elam-Nameh” and “Ishtehar-Nameh” were first used but not widely accepted. The term “Elan” was eventually used, which became a media term in Iran. The first commercial advertisement was published in the newspaper “Vaghaye Ettefaghieh” during the reign of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, promoting various foreign products. During World War I, significant changes occurred in the graphics and content of advertisements. The period between the two World Wars saw the codification of laws regarding commercial advertising, and in 1937, the first advertising company was launched in Iran. The General Office of Advertising and Publications was established in 1940, and in 1946, 18 Advertisement Agencies were operating in Tehran, marking the beginning of commercial advertising in Iran.

Two examples of old Iranian advertisements: Omran Bank and Pepsi-Cola

In 1940s, the period is generally known as the beginning of commercial advertising in the world, the advertising industry in Iran saw a boom too, with the rise of domestic production, independent industries, and locally-made goods. The growth of a middle class, urbanization, and consumerism also contributed to the growth of advertising, which included marketing tactics like prize giveaways and lotteries.

The 1950s saw the vegetable oil production industry as the most active in advertising, with agencies like Ziba, Modat, Tuti, Fakupa, and Fenzi leading the way. Fakupa was the most controversial agency, while Ziba had a stable foundation and maintained a conservative approach. The growth of domestic industry caused many agencies without the financial and technical resources to shut down, leaving only a few advertising firms able to move on to the new stage, including Ziba, Vega, Sina, Ava, Zahra, and Fanzi.

Iranian advertising gradually took on more of an Iranian identity in the 1950s and 1960s, with Iranian proverbs and folk expressions being used more in advertisements. The establishment of the National Iranian TV organization in 1968 and the merger with radio led to advertising on television becoming increasingly important.

However, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 had a significant impact on advertising in Iran, the new Islamic government viewed Western-style advertising as inconsistent with Islamic values and sought to restrict its influence. This resulted in the banning of many Western products and brands, and advertising became subject to stringent censorship.

The revolution also brought about a shift in the content and style of advertising, by focusing more on Iranian culture and values, depicting religious and nationalistic themes, limiting the depiction of women, and restricting the use of foreign products and brands. Despite regulations for the establishment and supervision of advertising agencies, the industry failed to pick up the pace of its pre-revolution activities due to the dominance of foreign companies in Iran’s economy and the prevalence of imported consumer goods.

During the Iran-Iraq war, advertising was directed towards a commercial-free environment. After the war, commercial advertising activities increased significantly, leading to the establishment of the Advertising and Promotional Centers Administration in 1993 to regulate commercial advertising.


Modern Advertisement in Iran

The government of Iran has implemented laws and rules to regulate advertising in the country. Although the advertising industry has grown significantly recently, there are restrictions in place, such as a ban on advertising certain products like tobacco and alcohol, and the requirement that advertisements follow Islamic principles and cultural norms.

In addition, most of Iran’s media is controlled by the government, making it challenging for private companies to advertise through traditional TV and Radio channels.

However, companies can still advertise in Iran through digital platforms like social media and search engines, which are popular among Iranians. This approach is cost-effective and enables companies to target their desired audience.

Modern advertising in Iran is a unique blend of traditional Iranian values and Islamic principles, combined with the latest digital advertising technologies and platforms.

The Complications of Advertising in Iran

There are several challenges associated with advertising in Iran, which may affect businesses operating in the country.

  • Economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the US and other countries can make it challenging for Iranian businesses to advertise their products or services internationally or access certain advertising tools and platforms. These sanctions can limit the ability of Iranian businesses to participate in global advertising campaigns and restrict their access to the latest advertising technologies and platforms.
    • As a result, businesses in Iran may face difficulties in reaching a wider audience and keeping up with global competitors in terms of advertising and marketing.
  • Strict government regulations that limit the types of products and services that can be advertised, as well as the content and tone of advertisements.
  • The Iranian government prohibits the advertising of alcoholic beverages and imposes strict regulations on the content and tone of advertisements.
    • This can limit the advertising options available to businesses. Additionally, advertising campaigns in Iran must adhere to Islamic values and avoid promoting Western cultural values.
  • Widespread internet filtering and limited media options dominated by state-run outlets, which can make it difficult for businesses to reach their target audience through traditional advertising channels.
  • Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are blocked in Iran, which can make it difficult for businesses to reach their target audience through digital marketing.
  • The Iranian government heavily regulates online content and restricts access to many popular websites and services, including Google Ads. This can create challenges for businesses in Iran that want to advertise their products or services online, as they may need to find alternative advertising channels or work with local advertising agencies that specialize in navigating the Iranian market.
  • Cultural sensitivities in Iran can make it challenging for businesses to create advertising campaigns that are both effective and compliant with government regulations.
  • This is especially true when it comes to depicting women in advertising and adhering to Islamic dress codes. Businesses must navigate these cultural sensitivities carefully to create advertising campaigns that resonate with the local population while also complying with the relevant regulations.

These challenges require businesses to carefully consider the regulatory and cultural landscape of Iran, as well as the limited media and advertising options available, in order to create effective advertising campaigns that reach their target audience while complying with the relevant regulations.

Importance of Communications and Public Relations in Iran Marketplace

Effective communication is essential in the Iranian market, where cultural norms and government regulations can pose challenges for businesses. Companies that invest in developing strong communications strategies and partnerships are more likely to succeed in this unique and complex environment. Effective communications can help companies build relationships with key stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and government officials, as well as manage negative publicity that may arise. In addition, communications can provide valuable insights into the Iranian market and consumer behavior, helping companies make informed business decisions and tailor their strategies to meet the needs and preferences of Iranian consumers.

Communications (Public Relations) agencies play a crucial role in advertising in the Iranian marketplace. Limited in number, these agencies specialize in managing and improving the public image and reputation of companies and organizations through a variety of strategies and tactics.

Communications Agencies can also help companies build relationships with media outlets and journalists in Iran, which is particularly important given the government’s tight control over the media. By establishing these relationships, PR agencies can help companies secure positive media coverage and manage any negative publicity that may arise.

PGT Advertising campaign in Iran


Marketing Agencies in Iran

Agencies in Iran are specialized firms that help businesses promote their products or services through various channels. There are many different types of marketing agencies, including advertising agencies, digital marketing agencies, PR agencies, branding and design agencies, content marketing agencies, event marketing agencies, influencer marketing agencies, experiential marketing agencies, market research firms, and integrated marketing agencies.

Each type of agency has its own area of expertise and focuses on specific marketing activities, such as creating advertising campaigns, managing a company’s reputation, developing and distributing content, planning events, partnering with social media influencers, conducting market research, and offering a full range of marketing services.

Research suggests that an integrated marketing approach executed by a single agency in Iran is more likely to result in a successful campaign than employing multiple agencies with varying specialties. Therefore, it is crucial to choose the right marketing agency in Iran that can provide comprehensive services to meet your specific business goals.

A Spotlight on a Professional Marketing and Communications Agency in Iran: PGt Agency

With a distinguished presence spanning two decades, PGt Agency has solidified its position as a powerhouse in Corporate and Marketing Communications, primarily collaborating with international companies. Over the years, the agency has expertly managed the PR and Communications of esteemed brands such as British Airways, Nokia, Philips, BenQ, Samsung, ABB, Roche, and many others. However, since the re-imposition of sanctions on the country in 2018, PGt Agency has demonstrated its resilience by continuing to serve as the chosen PR and Communications Agency for renowned companies like Unilever, Hayat, and Nestlé, establishing long-lasting partnerships with these industry leaders.

At the heart of PGt Agency’s approach lies a comprehensive view of communications, encompassing all stakeholders involved in a client’s business. Utilizing various channels, including Digital Marketing and Advertising activities, the agency ensures effective and far-reaching communication strategies for their clients.

Throughout its impressive journey, PGt Agency has garnered a reputation as a reliable and trusted partner, consistently attracting prominent brands over the past two decades. A notable aspect of the agency’s commitment is its proactive engagement with local brands, as exemplified by successful collaborations with Zarrin Ayand and Marina.

For those seeking a reliable and accomplished partner to elevate their brand’s presence and communication efforts, PGt Agency proves to be a compelling choice. For inquiries and more information about their comprehensive suite of Corporate Communications and Marketing Solutions services, interested parties can reach PGt Agency through their website:

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