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Is there a better case study for brand and advertising than church?

If you think about it, there are few organizations for which advertising is a bigger deal than religious ones. This is the literal nature of evangelism—to spread the “good news” is to advertise. And just like any company, it’s advertising a brand with a core narrative. So it would follow that the rise of advertising in the middle of the 20th century, and the rise of hyper-targeted advertising now, would be one of the best things to ever happen to religion.

In theory, we should be able to precisely target people who are likely to convert or become closer adherents of a given religion. We have iconography that’s instantly recognizable, unlimited channels through which to engage people, and even micro-influencers who urge you to join them at church.

And some religious communities have embraced modern technology. On a road trip through the south of the US a few years ago, my friend (a devout atheist who majored in religious studies in college) and I visited one of the foremost megachurches. It was an incredible experience. We were amazed by a lot of things there, but perhaps nothing more than the amount of technology that powers the facility:

Firstly, the place is like a hospital or airport in its infrastructure: it was a modern, multi-floor building with double doors (the kind that open opposing directions with magnetic locking systems, like in a hospital) and long corridors lit by industrial-grade fixtures, PA systems, etc.

Second, the service (we lucked out with timing and it was ongoing when we arrived) is like a professional theater, complete with programmed, robotic lighting and wrap-around screens on which was projected pro-quality animation illustrating the gospel story being told. A tech team of no fewer than 5 (and certainly more than that we couldn’t see) was controlling the show.

And all that is before we get to the mini-experiences within the place like the cafe, bookstore, etc. It was unlike anything else I’d ever seen.

You have to imagine that if they have this kind of technical and creative resource for one service, they must have similar resources when it comes to their outreach efforts, too.

Field Notes

Church++

If you think about it, there are few organizations for which advertising is a bigger deal than religious ones. This is the literal nature of evangelism—to spread the “good news” is to advertise. And just like any company, it’s advertising a brand with a core narrative. So it would follow that the rise of advertising in the middle of the 20th century, and the rise of hyper-targeted advertising now, would be one of the best things to ever happen to religion.

In theory, we should be able to precisely target people who are likely to convert or become closer adherents of a given religion. We have iconography that’s instantly recognizable, unlimited channels through which to engage people, and even micro-influencers who urge you to join them at church.

And some religious communities have embraced modern technology. On a road trip through the south of the US a few years ago, my friend (a devout atheist who majored in religious studies in college) and I visited one of the foremost megachurches. It was an incredible experience. We were amazed by a lot of things there, but perhaps nothing more than the amount of technology that powers the facility:

Firstly, the place is like a hospital or airport in its infrastructure: it was a modern, multi-floor building with double doors (the kind that open opposing directions with magnetic locking systems, like in a hospital) and long corridors lit by industrial-grade fixtures, PA systems, etc.

Second, the service (we lucked out with timing and it was ongoing when we arrived) is like a professional theater, complete with programmed, robotic lighting and wrap-around screens on which was projected pro-quality animation illustrating the gospel story being told. A tech team of no fewer than 5 (and certainly more than that we couldn’t see) was controlling the show.

And all that is before we get to the mini-experiences within the place like the cafe, bookstore, etc. It was unlike anything else I’d ever seen.

You have to imagine that if they have this kind of technical and creative resource for one service, they must have similar resources when it comes to their outreach efforts, too.

Updated continuously • Last edited on
11.17.23
Field Notes

Church++

Updated continuously •
Last edited on
11.17.23

If you think about it, there are few organizations for which advertising is a bigger deal than religious ones. This is the literal nature of evangelism—to spread the “good news” is to advertise. And just like any company, it’s advertising a brand with a core narrative. So it would follow that the rise of advertising in the middle of the 20th century, and the rise of hyper-targeted advertising now, would be one of the best things to ever happen to religion.

In theory, we should be able to precisely target people who are likely to convert or become closer adherents of a given religion. We have iconography that’s instantly recognizable, unlimited channels through which to engage people, and even micro-influencers who urge you to join them at church.

And some religious communities have embraced modern technology. On a road trip through the south of the US a few years ago, my friend (a devout atheist who majored in religious studies in college) and I visited one of the foremost megachurches. It was an incredible experience. We were amazed by a lot of things there, but perhaps nothing more than the amount of technology that powers the facility:

Firstly, the place is like a hospital or airport in its infrastructure: it was a modern, multi-floor building with double doors (the kind that open opposing directions with magnetic locking systems, like in a hospital) and long corridors lit by industrial-grade fixtures, PA systems, etc.

Second, the service (we lucked out with timing and it was ongoing when we arrived) is like a professional theater, complete with programmed, robotic lighting and wrap-around screens on which was projected pro-quality animation illustrating the gospel story being told. A tech team of no fewer than 5 (and certainly more than that we couldn’t see) was controlling the show.

And all that is before we get to the mini-experiences within the place like the cafe, bookstore, etc. It was unlike anything else I’d ever seen.

You have to imagine that if they have this kind of technical and creative resource for one service, they must have similar resources when it comes to their outreach efforts, too.

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