Super Bowl Ads and the Future of the Church


Cindy Gallop is arguably the world’s most interesting woman. From her years as an advertising executive to her current entrepreneurial projects, Gallop has consistently set trends and created the future — for advertising and marketing and now (through IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn) for social action and the porn industry.

Last November, Gallop spoke on “The Future of Advertising” at a conference organized by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in France:

In her presentation, Gallop argues that people hate advertising, and if there’s going to be future for advertising it will need to become about these seven things:

  1. Goodness — “People hate advertising, in general. However, people love advertising in particular.”
  2. Transparency — Transparency is not just doing and telling others what you are doing, but inviting others to do it with you (e.g., inviting participation).
  3. Action — “You are what you do.” Action-branding = “It is not about saying, it is about doing” and “it is not about telling, it is about being.”
  4. Agency — Gallop believes ad agencies as they are today are too “old world” and will not survive, “They will have to blow up and start all over again.”
  5. Money — Gallop says that “just doing it for the money” isn’t going to work in the long run. Be selective about who you work with and for.
  6. Production — Gallop argues that new agencies should be built around her philosophy: “It’s about what you love doing and being ruthless about it.” Know who you are and focus on that.
  7. Magic — Agencies need to figure out how to sell their creative work while giving the impression that it is magic and not “just anyone” can do it.

While I’m fascinated by Gallop’s assessment of the advertising industry itself, I’m struck by how these same seven characteristics are also defining for the future of my own industry, the church/religious/faith community industry. (Just substituted “churches” everywhere it says “advertising agencies” in the list above.)

Are You Ready for Some Football?
I’m thinking about all of this, of course, on Super Bowl Sunday. The one day out of the year that many Americans aren’t upset about advertisements. In fact, we look forward to them! We can’t wait to see which companies will be running ads during the Super Bowl and what creative (usually, high-budget) ads they’ve created to sell their products or services.

This year, there’s actually been a little bit of a “digital first” push, with Super Bowl ads premiering online days before their television debut. We’ve already seen the return of Ferris Bueller (11+ million views) and Jerry Seinfeld with the Soup Nazi (13+ million views) — both selling new cars.

And then, of course, the annual Doritos Super Bowl crowdsourcing contest to see which user-generated, fan-supported ad makes it on the air in primetime. Although sometimes the best ads being created aren’t the ones that get the most votes or make it on TV — like this one:

The point is, to borrow from Cindy Gallop, “If the Church is to have a future, it needs to be about these seven things.” And our churches need to become more like Super Bowl Sunday and less like something we all want to fast-forward through on our DVRs.


What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Care to unpack these seven characteristics and how they relate to churches/faith communities (since I didn’t!)? Or do you just want to give a shout-out to your favorite team playing in the big game? Whatever … Post it in the comments!



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Posted on 02-05-2012

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