Here’s the written version of my latest •audiopost•.
Is marketing merely about selling a product? Well … not when marketing has come to the place of getting people to associate ideas, beliefs, messages, and metanarratives with their product. This is when the power of marketing goes beyond merely selling products to shaping the worldview of its target audience.
Most marketing techniques do this even if their message is not explicit. For example, how many times have you seen a Budweiser commercial where people were bored, depressed, unattractive, etc.? Never. What Budweiser would love for their target audience to do is associate happiness and attractiveness with their product.
But marketing doesn’t stop with this kind of association tactic. Marketing media often attempts to give much more in depth interpretations of life, values, and the world. Sometimes it’s explicit, sometimes it’s subtle enough that you don’t realize your being asked to believe something like, “World peace exists,” or “Your life is incomplete without our product,” or “Sex before marriage is OK, but you better wear a rubber,” or “Being yourself is more important than anything else,” etc.
These kinds of messages are commonly communicated in highly sophisticated ways without some sort of explicit declaration. This means marketing strategies, branding, and really all forms of media, can are are being used to promote points of view, messages, and values that are capable of shaping ones worldview.
In light of this, contra the recent article in Christianity Today by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, “Jesus is Not a Brand,” marketing strategies do not turn Jesus into a product or idol. Rather, marketing the gospel (i.e. Jesus) is simply a way of translating the gospel into the language of marketing in order to communicate a worldview, values, stories, messages, etc. We should never disengage these venues as Christians out of fear, ignorance, a fundamentalist mentality, legalism, etc. Rather, we should fully engage this cultural language for the sake of the gospel.
If you don’t like the way Jesus is being “Branded” in the media, critizising the enterprise of “Branding Jesus” is not the answer, providing alternative media that better communicates the gospel and engages the culture is.
____–__–__HT: U R B A N G L O R Y