Monday, December 06, 2004

New and Improved Snake Oil?

The United Church of Christ, in which I was raised as a youth, is trying to advertise on all the major networks. While the main news is that CBS and NBC have rejected one ad because it criticizes other churches for condemning homosexuals, the linked article quotes a professor of marketing who cautions about churches advertising in the first place:
Ellen Garbarino, assistant professor of marketing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said church advertising, like a pitch for soap, can help provide consumer awareness and lead to sampling. Then it's up to the church to keep a new member, she said.

But the UCC might face a consumer backlash, according to Garbarino, who said people expect ads on cars and candy, not necessarily churches.

I remember the Mormon church advertising regularly when I was a youngster in the '70s. That was the only way that I even knew what a Mormon was, growing up in Wisconsin suburbia. The Episcopal Church tried advertising a few years ago, but I haven't heard any mention of it since, other than regular sponsorship of the local NPR station by several local churches. The point is, church advertising is not exactly new. Thus I would expect a marketing professor to have statistics to back up claims for caution. Perhaps Prof. Garbarino does have such stats, and was cut short by the reporter. In that case I criticize the reporter for creating the incorrect impression that mainline churches have not regularly advertised before.

(via Marcus Maroney)

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