Advertise, advertise, advertise!


Here is the latest offering from the Churches Advertising Network. Every year, the Network produce adverts for Christmas. The idea is that churches then pay for them to be used in local media. Quite a few of their campaigns have resulted in lots of grumpy people saying, “That’s rubbish, I could do better” which is then broadcast along with the original ads. This ensures that the ads get a wide hearing, alonside the traditional Christan message of grumpetyness with one another for which our faith is famous.

This year, the Christian Advertising Network is building some of that into the campaign. People, (by which they mean young people 18-26) can have a go at writing something better and the best script or audio that they receive will receive £500.

I don’t think that the horse racing commentary above is the worst work that the CAN has produced. However, there is no chance of us using the accompanying football commentary as it does not use language inclusive of men and women:

Just in case you think these are really terrible, take a reality check by comparing them with the advert which the diocese of Lichfield published in football programmes last week on Back to Church Sunday.

The risable copy reads:

“Your local bishops are very excited about tomorrow’s new signing… you!
The 28th September is Back to Church Sunday – and thousands of people will be flocking to the terraces, er, pews, of their local church to join the millions of people who already go every Sunday. Why not join them? We may not offer a pie and Bovril at half time, but many consider a cup of tea or coffee and a bit of banter after the final whistle, er, prayer, a decent substitute. Whether you’ve been ‘away’ for a few months or many years, it’s time to come ‘home’. And because Jesus has already taken the penalty, you can be saved! Come this Sunday, and find out whether it will be 442, 343 or a completely different opening hymn.”


  1. Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

    Matt Hanson

  2. Eamonn says

    How naff can you get? It was worth listening to a professional advertiser’s comments on the Lichfield advert on the Sunday programme on Radio 4.

  3. Adverts that make people in the church feel comfortable are likely to be completely irrelevant to people outside the church. As the instigator and creator of the Lichfield football adverts campaign I stand by them – they did what we wanted them to do. We had a target and we achieved that target. The professional advertising chap on Radio Four was anti the adverts; but he was also anti the entire Christian message as a self-proclaimed militant atheist. His best effort? “Life” – which is a campaign he created for the Billy Graham missions 20 years ago. Hardly creative (now, 20 years on) nor fresh. His message was that the church should get rid of Jesus, God and all the “after life” stuff and concentrate on making people feel good now.

    One final thought, in this blog entry aren’t you demonstrating the Christian Christmas grumpetyness which you appear to be criticising in others?

  4. Thanks for your comments Gavin.

    You are quite right about my grumpityness though I was not particularly being critical of it in others. Indeed, being able to rely on other people’s grumpityness is one of the things which has ensured a lot of exposure for the CAN ads, for example, the Bad Hair Day campaign and the Meek, Mild As If one. It was the (mock?) outrage of the christian community that got those ads talked about.

    I’m a fan of what the CAN do, which I perhaps did not make clear in the above blog entry.

    I’d be interested to know what the target was and how achieving it was measured.

    I have to confess to feeling embarrassed by the Lichfield ad but then of course, it was not aimed at me.

    I also commented about past CAN campaigns here and here.

  5. Kennedy says

    Having listened to the CAN adverts, I am left asking what the message was and who was the target audience? If the intention was to familiarise the audience with the characters and motifs from the Christmas story then OK, but there is more that could be said in the time.

    You’ll permit me a small plug for the stuff that GRF produce.

    Have a listen:

    Yes, this uses the style of the M&S ads but I think that it communicates something about the Christian message and in a form that a non-church person could relate to.

    The judges at the Jerusalem Awards seemed to like it as they awarded it the premier award in the ‘Shorts’ category at their awards ceremony last week.

    If you are looking for creative audio to use in churches or schools then have a look at


  6. Thanks Kennedy. I like the M and S Ad. Very clever. I always like hearing Albatross (the music underneath) because it reminds me of someone I knew a long time ago who used to play it (on large pipe organs) during communion.

    One of the drawbacks of the ads that I was speaking about above is that they all depend on knowing the Christian story. That is perhaps legitimate in a Back to Church Sunday as it is presumably aimed at folk who have gone away knowing something or other.

    The line about the penalty does kind of imply that substitutionary atonement is what we believe though.

    The Lichfield ad certainly got a lot of coverage and if that was the intention, it succeeded.

  7. Elizabeth says

    I must admit I found the racing advert amusing. The football ones leave me cold. Aside from issue about inclusivity and dubious theology, I think living in Glasgow has made me very wary of any connection between religion and football.

  8. I think that the football one is excellent, as does my wife (and she can’t tell the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal – I guess they do both play in red though!). How is it not inclusive of men and women? As I see it there is good build up play from Mary and Joseph before Jesus scores…

  9. Hi Nick

    I’ve just rescued your comment from a spam filter – don’t know why it got swallowed.

    At St Mary’s we tend to avoid language like “men” where what is really meant is men and women, “mankind” when what is meant really is humanity etc

    This affects things like the language we use for hymns.

    We’d never sing, “Brothers, this Lord Jesus, shall return again” for example. In a mixed crowd it just seems rude.

    There is an ongoing degate about how far to go with this policy but by and large, language inclusive of men and women is the norm at St Mary’s and exclusive language tends to jar and be distractive when you’ve got used to more inclusive language in church. Thus the ad is something we couldn’t use because of the use of the word “man” meaning something other than just men.

  10. The term “banter”, as featured in the ad, should also be used by no-one anyway (and only partly because of Chewing the Fat). O the amount of people that have endured abuse and had it expained away as “just banter”.

    Wondering if “male” ads like this are ok if one also does female-centered advertising, or if the whole idea is hoary sexism. St.Silas does a Women 4 Women thing which I believe is popular. No Men 4 Men though.

    Hope I’m immune from the st.silasite ensnaring spam filter

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