Catholics Come Home. The big church recruits lapsed users with a new advertising campaign.
January 8, 2010
In my novel, The Happy Soul Industry God hires an advertising agency to market Heaven. Tries to anyway. All hell breaks loose before the Lord gets hooked up.
But if God had found an agency, and subsequently gotten an ad campaign, it might have looked something like the above commercial on behalf of the Catholic Church. The client is identified by the mantra “Catholics Come Home” with a website by the same name. If the client is, indeed, the Catholic Church then the money to produce these ads must come from the Archdiocese’s various regional branches.
Whatever, it’s the strategy and creative executions that interest me most. Beseeching lapsed Catholics to come home implies the target audiences are those who have drifted from the church or abandoned their faith all together.
Showing adults the “movie of their life” and forcing them to watch the lowlights is an obvious but admittedly effective approach, especially if you once believed in God, heaven and an afterlife. In one spot, a middle-aged man watches his younger self yelling and screaming at his terrified wife. In another scene, he sees himself dressing down black subordinates at work. And so on.
Yet, instead of threatening the man with the prospects of hell the church suggests that living with his dark past is punishing enough. This strategy assumes lapsed Catholics (if not all of us) are greatly tormented by (our) unflattering memories. That guilt, remorse and shame make ‘here and now’ a form of purgatory.
But, suggests the church, it’s never too late to alter the movie of one’s life. “Thankfully,” the soothing voice-over says, “you still can ask God to help edit your life story and create the ideal ending.”
Hammy yes, but refreshing in that God is now being portrayed as a loving father instead of a punishing one. He is helpful as opposed to vengeful, “no matter what you’ve done.” Coming from the Catholic Church this is “good news.” Not to mention fairly contemporary. Instead of positioning itself as a grueling but necessary chore, the Catholic Church wants to help lighten your load, and right now, not after you’re dead. It’s an enlightened approach. Lord knows they need one.
For another review of this campaign as well as other religious marketing schemes visit Church Marketing Sucks.