Who Has Better Better PR: Jesus or Beer?

February 5, 2010

This Sunday, millions of Americans will gather together to eat junk food, watch a football game, and hope to see some really good commercials.

And the rest of the world still won’t care, because it isn’t soccer.

I’ll be pulling for the Saints this weekend, if only because I like underdogs.  Maybe that’s kind of spiteful of me.  Peyton Manning has done nothing to me personally.  But he’s a really successful quarterback and an all around nice guy with a charming personality, so I’m hoping his team loses. 

I’ll be watching the game with other casual football observers.  I’ve noticed there are two types of Americans.  There are hardcore superfans whose lives, families, jobs, wardrobes, finances, and personalities revolve around being really good at watching football…and then there’s everyone else.  It is impossible to mix the two together.  Casual observers are not welcome among the ranks of Superfans.  And Superfans quickly find they have a hard time holding a place in the conversation with people who read books and speak at normal decibel levels.

Some churches like to show the game, but they have a weird relationship with it ever since every American was scarred for life by brief partial nudity.  Since then, the producers have been a lot more cautious about what the halftime show will contain.  To ensure the safety of virgin eyes who were watching Superbowl XL, we were treated to Mick Jagger’s soggy upper-arms flapping in the wind.  I ask you: is that any less frightening to young children?

There will be a bunch of advertising.  A few billion dollars will be spent on commercials.  Half the advertising during the game will be for one great tasting, low-calorie, non-filling adult beverage or another.  At the same time, there will be little to no advertising done by church groups.  The closest a church will get is Mosaic Church creating that Doritos ad that might get played.  Tim Tebow is doing an ad about pro-life stuff, but that’s about all Christians have to cheer for.

Has anyone watched a commercial and said, “Ha!  Magic fridge.  That was hilarious.  But what is this ‘Bud Light’ they speak of?  I must purchase this item and see if their boastful claims about their product line’s superiority are true!”

No.  Everyone knows about Bud Light.  They know it’s watery tasting alcohol that won’t make you fat.  They aren’t offering us any new information.  And yet, Anheuser Busch spends billions of dollars making hilarious commercials to tell us, again about their rather mediocre product.

I used to think that the problem with trying to market Jesus is that everyone already knows who Jesus is.  What else is there to say about him?  But apparently, that isn’t the problem.  What we want to share with the world is infinitely better then Bud Light.  But our marketing, most of the time, sucks.

The problem is people don’t think Jesus is fun.  People think beer is fun.  People don’t think Jesus inspires humor.  Everyone knows beer makes you funnier.  I heard Christians even got uptight over the religious themes in the Doritos commerical from Mosaic Church.  And as long as Christians are uptight about religion, people will love beer more than Jesus.

Sure, there’s probably limits to how we ought to “brand” Jesus.  We’re the church, not a multi-national corporation.  Still, when you’ve got more people gathered at one time to see your message than at any other time of the year, why aren’t churches trying harder to get people to love Jesus more than beer?

Most of us want to say that the best advertising for Jesus is word of mouth from friend to friend.  But I have to admit, there’s a lot of days I’m a really bad commercial for Jesus.

What do you think?  Should the church groups with loads of tax-free non-profit cash spend some of it on really good advertising?  Who will you be pulling for in the game?  Are you looking forward to the Superbowl or Valentine’s Day more?  Are you a casual fan or a SUPERfan?