Thursday, March 16, 2006

Description of New UCC Commercial Leaked

Thanks to by way of the UCC forums...

Many mainline churches see multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns as the latest evangelistic tool, but none hit the news like the “God is Still Speaking” campaign from the United Church of Christ—in part because major TV networks classified the ads as “advocacy” spots and rejected them. The first series, aired on cable networks, showed gruff bouncers turning away select worshippers at the church door—including racial minorities and gay and lesbian couples—followed by the text “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.” The newest ads, launched in November, show “unwelcome” minorities being shot out of church by ejector seats, accompanied by the text, “Jesus didn’t reject people.”

“These commercials are like modern parables,” campaign coordinator Ron Buford told Sojourners. “When people see these ads, they get it.” In fact, the ads won the Association of National Advertisers annual award for multicultural excellence. Buford is confident that future ads will build on this response, saying, “They will be funny, hard-hitting, and they will make the point.”

Ejector seats is Ron Buford's idea of 'whimsical.' I think it sounds silly. Not silly in a haha way either. Silly in an 'is this the best you could do?' kind of way.

I thought the bouncer ad worked because it spoke to people's experiences. This ad attempts to duplicate the communication of that experience, only, as Buford has said in other publications in a 'whimsical' way. A gay couple and a guy in a wheelchair being 'ejected' through the air is supposed to be the 'whimsical' part, but I doubt that anyone who has been ejected from a church in real life will see the ad and say, 'That's me!' Not while chuckling, anyway.

This ad is making light of the ejectee's experience, while the bouncer ad was seeking to take it seriously.

Why would the formerly churched laugh at this?


Rachel Nguyen said...

I have to be honest, I thought the bouncer ones were in really bad taste. It always seems suspicious when you have to affirm yourself by denigrating others. Yeah, the bouncers made a point... but the nice bit at the end would have too. It just smacks so much of Madison Avenue to me. Some ad exec thought it was 'kicky' and managed to sell it to otherwise compassionate and thoughtful people. The UU church had a similar campaign while I was there. They had bumper stickers and huge billboards that said: "A different Trinity- Respect. Freedom. Justice."

As a UU Christian, I was genuinely appalled... and ultimately left the denomination.

Ejection seats indeed.

Jeff Nelson said...

Hi Rachel. Welcome.

In general, a critique I am increasingly harboring with the UCC are the jabs at other faith groups in various expressions such as Synod. When there is too much of it, the UCC's message becomes, 'Come to us because we aren't like them.' Rather than defining who we are, we define who we aren't, which is a very poor way to go about it.

The bouncer ad didn't sit well with other churches and denominations. That was a natural and unfortunate byproduct of what was directed at those who have left churches due to discrimination. I sympathize with that critique, but the symbolism is real for many as well. And in much better taste than ejection seats.

Rachel Nguyen said...

I am happy to have found your blog! Thanks for the welcome!

Unknown said...

I thought the other ad, with a variety of faces and voices saying "all the people," was much more effective. I didn't mind the bouncer ad, but while edginess is a great way to attract attention, I'm not sure it is really the way to reach out to people and invite them into community.

Anonymous said...

The bouncer ad was intended to reach people who have seen all the feel good commercials from many denominations just to find out that they are not as welcome as the ad says they will be. Those people need an ad of this type to get their attention and meke them consider trying church again. The ad did not name any specific churches or denominations so I think any who were ofended should look at why.