Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yeah. What would He do?

In a way, discussing United Church of Christ's newest ad can be tricky. Religion is such a sensitive, intensely personal issue and advertising is subjective, so it could all get so ugly so fast.

Still, let's rip the UCC a new one, shall we?

I admit, I'm interested in this only because I grew up in a UCC church. I can tell you that although the national leadership loves controversy, you'd really not know it from the typical local-level Sunday service where autonomy mostly means a low-key, pleasant, 50-minute gathering. That's true even here in the South, where the UCC is often confused with the flashier Church of Christ. (Telling difference: UCC members drink. And dance.)

At ChurchMarketingSucks, Doug's comment gets the new ad just right: "The UCC is saying churches are bigots, even if they try to say they’re different. Guess what, UCC—you’re a church, too, so you just cast yourself in the same light."

And this: why is UCC going after people who already go to church? I mean, what's the net gain if the UCC bags a Methodist? Shouldn't they really be reaching out to non-churchgoers? Instead of an alternative to other churches, shouldn't the UCC be presenting itself as an alternative to other Sunday activities, like sleeping in? Isn't that the real challenge here? I know that's harder and it might take more than a 30-second spot but it's just something they might want to consider. You know, just in case the coffers can't always support a $1.5 million ad budget.


Kirk said...

Irene -- I'm sorry you saw something different than we intended with the commercial. It seeks to reach out to people who have felt rejected by the church for some reason. It invites people to come back and says, "You're welcome here."

Irene Done said...

Kirk -- I'm so glad you commented. Ads can be such Rorschach tests so different people will have different take-aways. Maybe part of my problem is that I feel those commercials focus so heavily on the "rejection" part of the story and the result is that UCC's truly warm, welcoming, all-inclusive atmosphere gets buried. The result: people focus on the controversy and not the message. One thing I have wondered is how UCC members feel about this commercial.

And I should have been clearer about my personal experience in UCC churches -- that's always been positive.

darkcoffee said...

Nah, you're right on the money,Irene, and you didn't misunderstand anything, of course. It's a smartass and smug ad that degrades the product in search of hipness, which the writer obviously had no clue how to attain.