Is Advertising a Silly Place to Spend?

September 21, 2009 by

Thousand of churches in Australia are about to embark in “Christianity’s largest ever Australian advertising push.”

But one lecturer in consumer behavior and advertising says that this money is being spent foolishly:

Yes, advertising does have some influence over attitudes and behaviour, but the reality is that it can only really work as a “nudging” tool. In other words, an advertisement will incrementally move you toward a decision, but there are a whole bunch of other variables that will determine your final behaviour or decision. In reality, one-way advertising is a relatively weak motivator when it comes to consumer behaviour (although the ad agencies wouldn’t tell you that when you are about to give them $1 million).

He argues that these ads only affect people who are already teeter-tottering on whether to visit a church, and that crowd is relatively small. What he fails to discuss, however, are the principles of brand recognition or the long-term affects of advertising. Regardless, it’s a great exercise in thinking twice about where your dollars are going.

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Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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8 Responses to “Is Advertising a Silly Place to Spend?”

  • Marvin
    September 21, 2009

    Brand recognition is key not only to remind your audience of your values but also to keep them “front of mind” for yourself. I’m constantly “advertising” to my kids about our shared virtues and it keeps both of us in line.

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  • Duncan Robinson
    September 21, 2009

    The JAAL campaign in Australia is interesting, if you head over to communicate Jesus,
    you can see some feedback from a bunch of Aussies on the Promo. In my opinion it is a little gimmicky and a little amateur. I think with the budget they have, and personally being an Australian, I am a little disappointed to see something like it is. With great websites like I was a little down to see this is what they came up with.

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  • David Zook
    September 21, 2009

    After spending a season of my life in the marketing world, I can tell you that it is very difficult to change behavior unless you have a category busting product like and iPod or iPhone.
    I believe that what a healthy well balanced church offers is category busting product, but it’s a bit different than a consumer product.
    In the field I served required the folks we were targeting to see our product at at least 18 times before coming on board. That could take up to a couple of years.
    Point is: brand building advertising is a long-term commitment that drains budgets and is difficult to precisely gauge its effectiveness, no matter how creative the campaign is.
    Besides, studies in the states indicate that up to 90% of people who go to church went because a friend or family member brought them.

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  • Darren Chapman
    September 22, 2009

    The JAAL campaign isn’t to get people into church. It’s to build awareness of who Jesus is and get people thinking about what Jesus means today. While the ads aren’t perfect, they do speak to the Australian public about real questions people have about life. I mean, heck, they’re almost the same as the NRMA Unworry ads.
    As an Australian pastor I’m pleased with the campaign, with the money being spent and how it’s being done. To see 1511 churches come together across 1 state and unify under a common name, brand and theme is a modern miracle.
    I think we’re blessed to have a great ad sparking in people’s minds something about Jesus which hopefully will get people talking and eventually moving towards faith.

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  • Darren Chapman
    September 22, 2009

    You can see the first television ad here:

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  • prophetik soul
    September 23, 2009

    If they want to build awareness, why not invest the $$ in people, not advertising campaigns?
    The problem with advertising is that people are looking for short term gains in areas that demand a long term human touch.
    Advertising for churches is often a sign of laziness and a lack of vision.
    For example, I think churches could be more effective if they invested their $$$ in things like festivals. Empower people (through technology and human needs) to respond to people in this setting. But this requires a long term commitment.

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  • Jeremy young
    September 24, 2009

    I read a post this morning on a small business marketing blog that said 17% of time spent online was with social media. Blogs Facebook Twitter etc…
    I just wonder how many of these churches are actively building their brand using social media?
    I know that my own pastor is not.
    He may send out he occasional tweet now and then but as a church in general they would rather spend their money in advertising than build relationships and branding with free social networking sites. I wonder when the Australian Christian population will wake up to the Phenom of social web?

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  • Church Advertising
    February 19, 2010

    The thing about this is that a nudge is all we can do. There is no way to change someones past feelings of church that I know of. There is only the ability to nudge in the right direction.

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