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Scientology's Big Swing

According to the New York Times, the ad ran "16 times an hour on a digital billboard in Times Square in December. The expanded marketing is likely due to the abusive organization's current funding challenges.

Here's an excerpt from a New York Times article from 2013, the last time they did this to bring in people and money;

"After several months of mounting accusations over the treatment of its members, the Church of Scientology on Sunday tried to spread a softer, gentler message using the biggest advertising event in the country: the Super Bowl. For the first time, the church bought commercial time in local markets during the Super Bowl in order to feature an ad that called on “the curious, the inquisitive, the seekers of knowledge.” The ad, which ran in cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas, was in stark contrast to the more traditional Super Bowl fare from brands like Budweiser, Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola. “Some will doubt you,” said the narrator in the ad over soft-focus images of mostly young, ethnically diverse strivers. “Let them. Dare to think for yourself, to look for yourself, to make up your own mind.” Robert Passikoff, the president of Brand Keys in New York, a brand and customer-loyalty consulting company, said he was surprised to see the ad during the game. “Clearly the organization was looking for as broad an audience as it could,” he said.

The campaign came after several well-publicized attacks on the church’s credibility. In October, Vanity Fair published an article detailing the actress Katie Holmes’s life in Scientology during her marriage to the church’s most visible member, Tom Cruise. In January, Lawrence Wright published his investigative book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief,” which takes direct aim at the church’s practices and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard."

Professor Sharlet explains the non-message message;

"Jeff Sharlet, an assistant professor of English at Dartmouth College who has written about religion and the news media, said the ads were an attempt to position the church as nonconformist and appealing.

“It’s what marginal religions are doing more than evangelizing,” Mr. Sharlet said. “They are trying to say ‘You can trust us.’ ” Calling the ad “sort of mushy and vague,” he compared it to a sentimental commercial from the Chrysler Group extolling the virtues of farmers that also ran during the Super Bowl. Ad agency executives estimated the cost of this year’s Super Bowl commercials at $3.7 million to $3.8 million for 30 seconds.

Rohit Deshpande, a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, said that the ad was trying to be inspirational while saying very little about the organization itself. “The motivation is maybe to get some positive association and to build some curiosity so people will follow up and learn more about what the organization is about,” he said."


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