Church Marketing on the Gruen Transfer

The Gruen Transfer last night (or tonight if you caught it on ABC 2) had a segment on how religion uses advertising.

They looked at the Jesus: All About Life TV ad from last year.

Todd Samson reckons the Jesus is cool, the church is bad thing was based on sound research – but that the church is let down by the “retail experience” which is church. He reckons Hillsong has done this well.

Russel Howcroft said the ads worked, and numbers increased.

One of the other panelists made a point that preaching to the converted is a valid and necessary function of advertising.

The next ad was a Scientology spot. “Know yourself, know life” – it was, in the words of one of the panelists “pure motivational speech,” and it didn’t feature any ugly people.

Todd says religions have traditionally been about community. And the scientology ad tries to capture that.

The next spot was a Scientology ad featuring Tom Cruise – for people within the cult. Russel calls Tom Cruise a total “brain smashing” advantage for the converted Scientology people. He says “aspiration is so important in branding” and celebrity endorsements are a key part of that. Todd says it’s “influencing the influencers.”

The Mormons had a really weird ad that tapped into familial guilt. A little girl asks her mum to go rollerskating with her, she says no, the precocious kid reminds her that she’ll grow up to be a disconnected teenager. One of the Gruen panellists said the whole thing looked plastic, was horribly out of touch, and that it was pretty awful.

Then my favourite. Answers in Genesis. With the kid in a singlet with a pistol. Wil Anderson quips “Are you feeling Godly Punk?” – “will scaring people into religion help?” Todd quips “I thought that’s what Hell was for.”

Todd says religious advertising is run most often in tough times. Todd has an impressive grasp of the argument Answers in Genesis is making about evolution and morality. He calls it an awful piece of communication. They are preaching to the converted. Fear is good at keeping people in, but not attracting people in.

If you missed the episode check out this advert for Australian Christian television:

Cross promotions

Wil Anderson just made this bold claim on the Gruen Transfer:

“The McDonalds Golden Arches are now more recognisable than the Christian Cross.”

True or false?

It kind of fails to take into account the historical brand recognition and needs to be more specifically defined.

A little bit of googling suggests that this was either a piece of corporate indoctrination fostered by McDonalds that has now become fact – or that there is an obscure survey that I can’t find from the late 90s conducted in Australia…

Your thoughts?

Adventures in TV

We caught Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure last night on the ABC (post Gruen Transfer). It made me laugh until I cried. It’s Safranesque – and produced by the Chaser team.

If you missed it you can watch it here thanks to the magic of iView.

Very funny. I’ll never be able to pick up a copy of the Queensland Presbyterian newspaper, New Directions, again without catching subliminal messages.

One of my favourite bits was when his mum told him what he was doing (trying to track down the object of his grade 3 affections) was creepy.

Here’s the trailer. It uses lego. He’s also a Rubiks Cube master. And used that to get a girl’s phone number. Chicks dig guys with skillz.

Gruen man

The Gruen Transfer returned to TV tonight. It’s a brilliant show. Tonight’s topic – tourism advertising. A subject close to my heart. Made some interesting observations about how tourism marketing works and the basic formula.

A couple of years ago at a marketing workshop with Virgin Blue marketing guru Sean Cummins (from Cummins and Partners) showed two tourism advertisements from different states with the soundtracks switched – and it was almost impossible to tell the difference.

Tourism ads are by and large formulaic and in the past were too focused on iconic shots of postcard landmarks – and apparently what we’re really into is collecting experiences rather than pictures.

Tourism marketers are limited by government funding and the fact that the tourism industry is a disparate bunch of small businesses who don’t really want to throw much money into advertising a destination rather than their own businesses.

I’m going to make my own tourism ad on their website and figure out how to put it up here.