Sunday, May 18, 2008

Marketing to Faith-Based Audiences

The Hollywood Reporter has an article about marketing to "faith-based" audiences, specifically in regards to major Hollywood films like the just released Prince Caspian.  

It has numerous interesting and troubling points, such as someone from Gener8xion Entertainment saying that relationships with senior pastors are his "secret sauce" in the recipe of faith based marketing.  He mentions that the most effective tactic is having a pastor play a trailer and then endorse a film.  For me, I find that concept disturbing.  I was troubled by the single, small poster for Expelled that was on the bulletin board at my church.  I think that if my pastor had devoted service time to a trailer and then endorsed the film himself, that would be the day I leave the church.  
The article does bring up the concept, as expressed by Bill Ewing in our interview way back about a year ago, that The Passion was a anamoly.  They also mention how huge "faith-based" marketing campaigns failed to turn Evan Almighty or The Nativity Story into hits.   However, marketing people interviewed keep saying that they can have success getting Christian rear-ends into seats, despite scant evidence.  It seems that, for marketers eyes, all Christians are part of a monolithic viewing block that simply follows wherever someone mentions Jesus in a film.  Or even worse, when they don't mention Jesus at all and expect Christians to come anyway because of some tenuous association.  
Rather insulting to Christians, if you ask me, and I'm proud to see that such slimy campaigns as Evan Almighty failed to bring in the gullible audiences they were apparently looking for.  

1 comment:

Awakenpictures said...

Welcome back and congratulations on graduating!

You bring up some very important questions as to how far marketing should go with churches. And there is a balance to it. Great caution must be taken when businesses target churches to gain money from the sheep in that flock. However, there are many fine folks who do business with churches, Bible and book distributors, hymn books, Bible study materials, even pews and organs and instruments are sold to various churches... and yes direct to church Christian movies.

How far should they go...and have they gone too far already? Have we turned the Father's House into a "den of thieves?" Yet I know there is a balance. Some argue that a pastor shouldn't even get paid and churches shouldn't have tax exempt status because then they begin to bow their knee to a government or a paycheck that tries to silence them or manipulate what they say.

As far as promoting Christian movies, I know in my community it is hard to get some of these independent Christian films like Bella or Facing the Giants to come to our community. But sometimes a representative from a church or churches will ask the local mom and pop movie theater to play a certain movie and they rangle up some folks to go see it. And the owner is nice enough to take a shot at putting it into his theater at that request and sometimes very few show up -- and he loses money -- on the other hand -- he has also gained a lot when he put the Passion of the Christ in his theater at the numerous requests of Christians in his community.

Expelled came to that very theater, I believe,- because many Christians in my community wanted to see it and the pastors of a few local churches did support it and set up group showings and hung up posters-- I think it can work sometimes -- but building a business model out of it is downright dangerous.