Church Ad Rejected by Networks

December 2, 2004 by

United Church of Christ commercialInflammatory headlines are reporting that the major TV networks have rejected a homosexual church commercial. And those headlines are blowing it way out of proportion. The 30-second commercial promotes the United Church of Christ and features bouncers deciding who can and cannot enter a church. They reject several people, including two men who could be a couple.

The tagline explains: “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.”

The networks defended themselves by saying it went against long-standing policy not to accept ads that deal with public controversy, some taking issue with the gay couple, others complaining about the implications that other religions aren’t welcoming. The ad will be airing on a number of other networks and can be seen online.

I’m not going to take issue with the United Church of Christ and their stance on allowing open homosexuals to serve as clergy. That’s another debate.

I’m also not going to take issue with the networks that reject public controversy in religious ads—this from the same networks that flashed the world at last year’s Super Bowl and have given us such winners as Extreme Makeover and Wife Swap. And lets not consider everything else their commercials promote, including alcohol, sex and materialism. That’s also another debate.

What’s so interesting here is a smart approach to promoting church (outlined in a UCC press release):

  • They’re going with a nation-wide campaign and an initial $1.7 million ad buy to promote the entire denomination, not just letting individual churches go it alone (we’ve seen this idea before).
  • They’re focusing on two fronts: 1) battling the long-held impression among the unchurched that Christians are judgmental and not accepting, and 2) improving the name recognition of their denomination.
  • They’re also equipping local church leaders to welcome newcomers into their services, a program that goes hand in hand with the national ad.

This campaign confronts one of the biggest misconceptions about the church (a misconception that too often proves to be accurate) and puts the church in a position of open arms while the major U.S. networks are being accused of censorship and even compared to television stations in the 1950s and 1960s that refused to show people of color. Ouch.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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2 Responses to “Church Ad Rejected by Networks”

  • brand1m
    March 4, 2005

    Well I find it interesting that they (the networks) defend themselves by saying they do not accept ads that deal with public controversy. This coming from the folks that brought us such genius as the Janet Jackson halftime show, the people that report falsified documents about the President, quality programs such as Jerry Springer and all the other stuff listed above. Typically, the networks want controversy because that gets people watching.

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  • CJ
    May 28, 2005

    Personally, I was very offended by the ads. The ads were not positive ads, but were based on attacking most other protestant churches for their stance on the homosexuality issue.
    Ads need to be moral and honest. This ads fails in both aspects – morally it is wrong to attack in such a vulgar manner, and it is dishonest to portray churches not in their particular denomination as being in such a way, when the vast majority simply do not act that way.
    This is a great example of false, ungodly marketing, and a great reminder to not lose touch with Christian values when creating ads.

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