Tag Archives: Jesus all about life

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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:

Unbelievable statistics

I’m not sure what to make of these stats from the research on the Jesus All About Life campaign.

Some of these are the same stats I posted the other day – but a report on the research can be found here.

Believer or non-believer, 54% of Australians ranked Jesus as the number one most influential person in history beating Albert Einstein who came in at second place (16%) and Charles Darwin who was ranked third (9%). Research commissioned by www.allaboutlife.com.au revealed Australia is a nation of believers with approximately 5 in 6 (83%) responding that Jesus was a real figure from history.

It’s odd… going by the ongoing discussion over here the one in six people who don’t think Jesus is a real historical figure are gaining a bit of traction while clearly swimming against the tide* of public opinion…

This research gives a great insight into people’s beliefs about Jesus and their faith today. The fact that Jesus is revealed to be the most influential figure in history shows his message is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago and people still look to him as source of inspiration.

To me, this suggests the JAAL campaign was barking up the wrong tree a little. Jesus doesn’t need an image upgrade. He doesn’t need wishy washy feelgood statements posted online… People think he’s alright.

What he really needs is accurate representation. Because people are much less sold on the facts.

“Of these believers 43% believed Jesus had miraculous powers and he was the son of God. Australia still has faith with 2 in 5 Australians stating they actually practice a religion and only 27% not believing in a God or universal power of any sort.”

*Mmm. Delicious cliche.

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Rebranding God

The Jesus All About Life campaign is on in earnest – though it’s unlikely it’ll get much attention as far north as Townsville. Steve Kryger from Communicate Jesus had some insightful critiques of the campaign’s methodology. He copped a bit of flack for daring to stick his head up and say what anybody who thinks a bit about marketing (or works in the field) was already thinking.

My problem isn’t so much with the style of the campaign – I’ve got a problem with the substance.

I think we’re creating a generation of apathetic nominal Christians whose only knowledge of the Bible is John 3:16, and whose only knowledge of God is that he is loving. And all they have to do is “believe”.

I believe in lots of things that I don’t really care about, and if I use that understanding of the word and apply it to God, without reading the rest of the Bible then I can comfortably, and apathetically, rest assured that God and me are mates. And God is loving. So he’ll do right by me…

I don’t think there are many people stopping to think about what this loving God wants them to do with him past belief. And I don’t think “thank you Jesus for birds that look like they’re wearing pants” is the way to move people past that nominal point and into active Christian “belief” – that where thought is outworked, and where Jesus’ righteous place as Lord of our lives is realised.

Yes, God is loving. Yes, we do need to believe in him (as he actually is, not just that he is). But we need to move past that in our marketing campaigns – every marketing campaign needs a call to action. The call shouldn’t be “be thankful for…(whatever makes a nice postcard)” it should be something that enhances the understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

In our marketing at work part of what we’re aiming to do is “sell the sizzle, not the sausage” – which is what you do in a crowded marketplace like tourism where every customer already knows they’re looking for a holiday but haven’t necessarily chosen where. You can’t do this with Christianity. People need to better understand what goes in our sausage before we even try selling it.

UPDATE: Steve Kryger has posted some research that led the campaign in the direction it went in. It makes for interesting reading – basically the people behind the campaign found that people have negative thoughts about Christianity (particularly secular humanists) and they wanted to move away from “traditional” advertising…

“At a more fundamental level, non-Christians tend to reject the idea of ‘one truth’ as a divisive concept that is to blame for much of the conflict in the world today, and that clashes with the secular humanist ideal of taking personal responsibility for lifestyle choices and interpersonal values.”

I don’t get it. The gospel is no good because we can’t sell it?

I maintain my hypothesis that the gospel is less effective because we’ve spent so long selling it so badly. And pulling out the important bits in a bid to not be offensive (I guess reacting against the “turn or burn” fire and brimstone preachers of the previous generation) doesn’t seem to be a greatly effective strategy.