images1Believe in something better or burn forever!

“Believe in something better,” exhorts the US Cellular campaign from Publicis & Hal Riney. My former colleague and good friend, Jamie King currently works at the agency, so this post is not meant as a critique good or bad. Yet, it got me thinking.

In my new novel, The Happy Soul Industry God hires an ad agency to market Heaven. The fictional agency comes up with a pretty good campaign, which I won’t get into here. (Read the book!) It dawns on me, however, that the US Cellular copy would do nicely as well!

Heaven. Believe in something better.

Not bad, right? One could argue it serves Heaven better than a phone company!

Come to think of it, a lot of tag lines seem like they could serve a “higher purpose” than the ones they were designed for. Off the top of my head I thought of the following:

Just do it. The most famous tag line can be in Heaven as it is on Earth. The pronoun “it” becomes even riper. Does it mean praying, sharing, doing the next right thing? God only knows.

It’s the Real Thing. Coke’s classic mantra feels cool again when discussing the unknown. Could Heaven be real? Of course it is!

Think Different. Time to stop thinking about only yourself for a change! If you’re an atheist, agnostic or just plain cynical, here’s a phrase to get you right sized again.

I’m Loving it! Oh my God does this ever work. Super size my soul, brother! Eternal life. Do you want fries with that?

Share the Good. Are you kidding me? This one is perfect. Heineken currently beseeches beer drinkers to share the good. Maybe they need a higher power instead. Hello AA.

Responsibility. What’s your policy? This ode to right thinking by Liberty Mutual lines up nicely with Heaven. The creative itself is pretty darn holy. You could run it as is, only changing the logo.

Crazy, eh? Look how many brands advertise as if they were selling God or Heaven or, at any rate, something pretty darn special. In fact, the long running “God Speaks” campaign actually pretends to be the voice of God.

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Can you think of other secular advertising that would translate heavenly? Post them here.

On this blog, and in The Happy Soul Industry, I explore the relationship between good and evil in advertising. These campaigns are provocative evidence that it is a very relevant topic.

Mother Mary or the St. Pauli Girl?

I ripped a blurb out from the Chicago Tribune this morning. (Yes, I still read the morning paper. Interfacing with a computer cannot replace coffee and the sports section… yet.) The story was about a slew of billboards going up in London (alas, none to show), produced by a group of well-moneyed atheists who, according to the Trib, “object to the favorable treatment given to religion in British society.” Some 30 buses will carry the slogan:

There’s probably no God.
Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

As many of you know, I’ve got a novel out about God and advertising: The Happy Soul Industry. In it, God finds an advertising agency to market Heaven. The campaign they come up with features this headline:

These days everybody’s skipping prayer.
So, how’s everybody doing?

You can imagine my amusement, then, at the non-believer’s advertisement. Same tone but a very different message! My line suggests the world is fretting and could really benefit from communion with God. The other suggests that there is no God and just get on with it.

Interesting use of the word “probably” as opposed to “definitely.” Does that make them agnostic? Regardless, unequivocally denying God’s existence would only infuriate the many to get a chuckle from the few.

What I don’t like is the “stop worrying” declarative. Constructive worrying is not a bad thing. It leads to positive change. And Lord knows, we have PLENTY to worry about, in the UK as well as here. “Don’t worry, be happy” is not so much atheistic as it is ignorant.

One has to place the now-famous “God Speaks” campaign into this discussion. For many years, a Southern congregation has underwritten countless messages beseeching people to heed God. Especially provocative about this campaign is that it maintains God as the copywriter! I know for a fact He isn’t, but the conceit does provide the work with a unique and powerful voice.

Like a lot of sensible people, my religious views evolved over time. As a boy, I was ignorant of God. He was merely a concept. As a young man I was an atheist. Not only did I believe in the power of “Self” (Ayn Rand being a huge influence), I also bought into the dismissal of religion as opiate for the masses. When you’re 22 you feel immortal -what need have you of God? By the time I got into my thirties, I questioned everything. At 40, I understood the need for a power greater than myself. I could no longer fill the hole in my soul by intellectual or hedonistic means, which had been my previous defaults.

Apparently, a lot of people can live without a higher power, hence the campaign from Britain. Like it or not, the message will get noticed. To what aim, I’ve no idea. I am fascinated (and amused) by God’s infiltration into popular culture. After all, I wrote a book about it! He (or She) is EVERYWHERE. Including, even now, in advertising.

Me before God, or rather an ad about a book about God. (best price on Amazon)

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