Campaign Private Hear

5 Dec

Today I was lucky enough to have one of my radio ads reviewed in Campaign. Of all the ads that ran this month, mine was one of the chosen six. Better still, I didn’t submit the ad to Campaign. Not only that, I hadn’t even told Campaign I had written the ad at the time they asked me for it. Why? It could be because of who my client is. The ad was for the UK churches and so the client, if you go up through everyone’s line manager’s line manager, is God. And we all know that He moves in mysterious ways. In reality, the client is someone who imagines what God might like, and what kind of advertising might make people like God. Campaign know that I regularly create a Christmas radio campaign for the church and they either hate these campaigns or love them so much (I haven’t asked) that every year, they put us forwards for a critical slating.

This year was no different. Our brief (as ever) is to retell the Nativity story. The reason for this is that an alarming number of people in our great nation do not know the story. Teenagers are the worst offenders – only 7% can actually tell you about Mary Joseph, shepherds et al. So rather than wring our hands and tell people off for letting go of such an important cultural (and spiritual) treasure, we just retell the story in an amusing way.

One reviewer simply retold the ad, which was odd, as the ad was a retelling of the nativity story, albeit through the medium of the Jeremy Kyle show. The second reviewer dedicated half of his review to the ad but questioned its “unfortunate racial overtones”  – the innkeeper speaks with a pronounced Middle Eastern accent. He seemed quite hung up on this but he also retold the Nativity story in his review. So, given the brief of “Retell the Nativity story”, I think we did quite well.

It’s always going to be tough advertising the church. It’s the world’s oldest client and everyone has been exposed to it at some point, and consequently feels they know it. Changing perceptions will take more than advertising, but in the meantime, if people are hearing about the Nativity story in amongst all the ads for John Lewis, KFC, M&S and the rest, we’re doing our job.

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