I wasn’t expecting to be thinking about Christmas this week, but thanks to ChurchAds.net releasing this year’s Christmas campaign yesterday, I’m probably now thinking about it too much.
ChurchAds.Net is an ecumenical network operating with a council of reference which includes a bishop and leaders from across the church denominations. Each year ChurchAds.net produces a Christmas advertising campaign that is used extensively by churches and Christian organisations all round the country as well as being aired on the radio and shown in public places.
So here we go this is our new friend for Christmas. It’s Godbaby(TM):
Here’s the thinking behind it all:
‘The Christmas Starts with Christ advertising campaign has one simple objective:
to put Christian faith on the conversational agenda at Christmas time.
Research shows that 84% of people believe that ‘Christmas should be called
Christmas because we are still a Christian society’ and yet that society still seems
set on airbrushing Christ out of His festivity.
Only 4% of Christmas cards carry a Christian message and political correctness
continues to legislate in favour of ‘season’s greetings’ or ‘happy holidays’.
And for most people, Christmas is simply a time to spend, spend, spend.
We at Churchads don’t object to this celebration, but we’d also like people to
spend a thought for the Christ child whose birth we are celebrating.
So, our campaign places a Christ-focussed message at the heart of the rampant
seasonal consumerism: on shopping centre posters; on commercial radio; in the
pages of our daily newspapers.
The idea is simple: to retell the nativity in a contemporary, secular context.
We are entering the 4th year of the campaign: you can see all the ads at
Research shows that 42% of people seeing the advertising say ‘it makes me think
more about the true meaning of Christmas’.
So all good stuff, but will it work? I have to admit that I have an irrational phobia towards dolls at in a similar sort of way that I do towards clowns, so when I first saw the advert it did rather unsettle me. So not the best of starts and judging by some of the reactions on Twitter, I’m not the only one to have been disturbed by it. The other immediate thought I had was, “Surely this a spoof?”
But, and this is a big but, it’s already got people talking. It reminds we of when the London 2012 logo first came out. It got so much negative publicity, but consequently it was everywhere and everyone was talking about it and everyone had an opinion. Godbaby provokes a reaction and that’s the point. If it causes people to question what it is and then think why they do or don’t like it then it’s working. If it causes people to think about what Christmas is really all about then even better.
Every year there’s now a fight at Christmas for the true message of Jesus’ birth to be heard above all the consumerism and marketing. Anything that is going to cut through it all and give even a taste of the Gospel in the high street has to be welcomed.
Anyone who thinks this idea is too superficial and not ‘Christian’ enough for such an advertising campaign is missing the point. We need to remember that the adverts are not aimed at those who are already Christians and come to church, but for those who don’t know Jesus and maybe have a limited grasp of the Christmas story.
So go forth Godbaby(TM). Go and irritate people with your scary plastic look. Make them stop and try to get their heads round what you’re all about. May your creepy face stick in their minds and cause them to talk about you to their friends and colleagues. And may you open people’s eyes to the true meaning of Christmas and cause them to discover the real Godbaby – Jesus.
You can download Godbaby(TM) posters and a pack for churches here.