Advertising copywriter Lizzie Hutchison shares the advertising campaigns that surprisingly share a Christian message.
Occasionally I get stick for working in an industry that’s seen to deceive people into parting with their hard-earned cash. Some Christians think advertising is the work of the devil, and you know, good luck to them. None of us are under the impression that we’re saving lives, but I don’t think it’s that bad. At the end of the day, people need toothpaste. And if your toothpaste is a bit mintier than the rest, then I see no problem in telling everyone that with a nice piccy and six or seven words.
Besides, when we get to heaven, how’s anyone going to know that the infinity pool is just behind the eternal ice-cream fountain if there’s no billboard? That’s all advertising is, really. Signposting. Sure, signposting particular elements about a product that people can resonate with, or that provide a particularly useful function. But signposting, nonetheless.
Advertising actually has to be based on truth.
Advertising actually has to be based on truth. The challenge is to find something that’s true for the brand, and fulfils a need that’s true for the audience. Any idea that even vaguely fluffs up the facts will get beaten into shape by the client, followed by another round with Brand, Compliance and (heaven help us) Legal, until it collapses - bloodied and bruised - on the floor, whimpering "it… was… just… a… metaphor". Lying is simply out of the question. No matter how hard I try, lol.
So, if it’s truth based, can advertising ever be hiding biblical messages? Well it’s not a resounding "yes" from me, but it’s not no either. Christians don’t have the monopoly on truth. Imma say that again. Christians have absolutely got the meaning of life down, but wisdom is revealed to everyone, in different ways. So there must be some messages that head in a wholesome direction. Here are a few that come the closest.
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"Because you’re worth it." Ah so very true, L’Oréal, so very true. Ok, I might mean in the way that we all have intrinsic value by virtue of being made in the image of Christ, and you might mean that I deserve to splash out £8.99 on shampoo, but who’s splitting hairs?
"Think Different." Apple did it so well, in so few words. And I think this is an ideology that Jesus would have gotten behind. He constantly subverted the norms of the day, hanging out with prostitutes, the poor and unpopular, and was always ready with an answer that no one anticipated. To be honest, he would have been a great copywriter. His parables are well constructed analogies, which always disrupt expectations with a twist at the end of the tale. TV gold.
Jesus would have been a great copywriter. His parables are well constructed analogies, which always disrupt expectations.
"Open happiness." I mean if this was applied to The Bible and not a can of Coke, then err… sure? And if you’re drinking one of these when at "The happiest place on Earth" then you must be doing something right. I’ll be honest I’ll give Disneyland this one because until we get to heaven, it’s a toss-up between it and Soho Farmhouse as the next best thing.
But for me It’s the brand with the ubiquitous tagline, that embodies the most practical, positive attitude of them all. When it comes to evangelism, quiet times, and saying hello to someone new in the peace, we should all "Just Do It".
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