Constitutive Rhetoric to Recruit Faith

Palm SundayWhile enjoying a particularly meaningful church service on this Palm Sunday, I had a bright moment of clarity that presented itself to me in almost tangible form. I did not see God, though. On the contrary, my realization is one that the pastor who was speaking and my parents would be a bit less thrilled with (though my Rhetoric professors at school would be pretty happy with me).

Speaking in generalities – something that I’ll admit can’t be done by someone trying to actually convince someone else of any kind of factual truth – the churches that I have always attended use inclusion and exclusion in their dialogue. Religious messages are often based on assumption that essentially works to recruit individuals to join the faith.

Example: these are all actual quotes copied from this morning’s service, given by Pastor Tom Stroup at Brockport Free Methodist Church. In bold are the portions of the sentences that were left in the sermon notes as blank lines, intended for the audience to fill in.

  • “Sometimes I think God has forgotten about me BUT God never forgets me!”
  • “Even when it seems life is hopeless, hope is what I have in Christ!”
  • “Caiphas would Kill Jesus to save Israel from Rome, BUT Jesus died to save us from our own sinfulness.

It’s subtle, but do you see what they did, there?

Churches frequently use words like I, WE, and US to formulate an in-group and out-group. The in-group are those that believe in God, have hope in Christ, etc. The out-group, obviously, are those that do not. If you had attended church this morning at BFMC, you never had the chance to decide which of those groups you belonged to. They actually decided for you. Even more – you wrote the words on the blanks, participating in the process.

It’s a fallacy of assumption, and it works.

Let’s brainstorm a few individuals who could have been in the pews this morning.

  • A child too young to completely understand religion, too young to have made any of his or her own decisions in regard to what he or she believes in.
  • A recovering alcoholic who was urged to pick a church and find God by a friend of his that goes to his Alcoholics Anonymous classes.
  • An atheist who believes in seeing both sides of an issue and therefore attends different churches from time to time.

Would we consider any of those individuals to be part of the in-group? I would not.

This is the point in the blog post at which I need to give readers notice of two things:

  1. Though it may seem like I am writing in a tone of disapproval of this inclusive language and rhetorical technique, that is not true.
  2. This is a Marketing blog. Occasionally, I am inspired to write things that are more religious, political, or cultural in nature, and when I do I usually have them posted on Trova101 (Thanks, Mark Trova!). This one, though, is here on Millennial’s Marketing. That’s because there is some marketing insight quickly approaching.

Not to take any sanctity out of religion, but… by engaging in this practice, churches are only  tapping into widely used marketing techniques.

In the fields of persuasion, like advertising and public relations, marketers are selling something. It might be an ideology, a product, a service, a human-being, or a cause, but they are selling something just the same. When you tell someone something about them-self, it is only a matter of time until they begin to believe it and use it to construct their own identity. I believe that participation in the message itself only accelerates that process, which can be seen in this morning’s church example. The equivalent, in marketing rather than religion, are social media channels.

Don DraperDon Draper once famously said, “People want to be told what to do so badly that they will listen to anyone.” Is your church and religion as a whole led by an incredibly faithful individual, or an expert marketer?

Probably both.




Advertisers Shine at The Oscars

In the advertising world, the Superbowl is (obviously) viewed as the biggest day of the year. On no other day do commercials receive so much buzz as they do during the Superbowl.

Commercials during the Superbowl are extremely targeted. Additionally, they are extremely focused on sports and football. In other words, companies don’t simply take their existing commercials and air them during the Superbowl. Rather, the commercials are produced specifically for that event in order to maximize the return on the massive price-tag associated with the production.

The Oscars

But, as I am watching The Oscars this evening, I am very excited to see some brands take a similar approach. Check out some of my favorites.

JC Penny, a major sponsor of The Oscars, uses the event to launch new campaigns pretty regularly. This spot is just one of a six-commercial set, some of which feature Ellen Degeneres. I could very easily write an entire post on this campaign as well, as they expertly integrated commercials with fantastic social media and web campaigns.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Samsung targeting the business market as of late, but this commercial, obviously featuring movie director Tim Burton, tied into The Oscars very well and is a good continuation of their Unicorn Apocalypse story.

Diet Coke – this is fantastic and I love it. At a time when the nation’s eyes were focused on the stars of the movie industry, they take the moment to say thank you to all of the individuals behind the scenes.

And finally… Stella. I’ll admit that I have a personal bias here, since I love Stella already, but I think the brand does a great job of using The Oscars to release this ad. Everyone at The Oscars is dressed to the nines and dressed to impress, and Stella taps into that environment with this super classy, high-brow commercial.

And the “She is a thing of beauty” tagline is incredible.

What were your favorites? Did I miss any great ads during The Oscars?

Facebook’s Promoted Posts gets mixed reactions

Anyone that manages a Facebook page for a brand will very shortly see a significant difference, if they haven’t already. Promoted Posts are a way for businesses to pay a fee to put their updates in front of more of their fans. However, there’s already some debate growing on whether this is a way for Facebook to help marketer’s efforts, or just to profit more from it.

Watch this video to learn more about how to promote posts.

It sounds pretty decent, right? More exposure? Well, if you take a look at the comments on this Mashable article, you’ll start to see some negativity surrounding the update.

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Down with the King! … And the rest of the company.

I have to be honest for a second. Burger King’s entire strategy when it comes to marketing  has always really bothered me. It seems like this company repeatedly makes very questionable decisions.


Remember this thing?

Burger King used this King mascot from 2003 to 2011, and it was featured in plenty of ads.

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Start Spreading the News

On March 25, Delta Airlines began it’s new flight schedule that boasted non-stop service from Rochester International to Laguardia. As a guy that lives around Rochester, I think it’s an awesome addition and something that Delta can definitely capitalize on. Some of the advertising that Delta used to kick-off the new service really caught my eye as well.

This is an ad that ran in Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle a few weeks before the service began.

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Inspired, Integrated Ideas are Only the Beginning

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to take a tour of Dixon Schwabl with about 8 of my classmates. The full-service advertising, public relations and digital media agency is well known in the Rochester area for its extensive, wide variety of clients and projects.

Dixon is also well known for its consistent place on lists of best places to work in America. After spending some time inside the agency’s walls, it’s not hard to see why.

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Slicing the March Madness Pie

I recently read a blog by Mark Trova, in which he talked about some of the different reasons why March Madness is so successful. At one point, he talked about advertisements, and how, “Everyone realizes the cash cow that is the NCAA tournament, and everyone wants a piece of the pie.”

After I read that, I began to notice just how right he was. While watching a single March Madness game, I quickly picked up on the trend of advertisements being specifically aimed at basketball lovers. Dove, State Farm and Mountain Dew are all advertisers who, I think, are definitely getting their piece of the Madness Pie.

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Maximizing the Bang for Times Square’s Buck

ImageAs part of my Spring Break this year, I spent a night in New York City with a few close friends. I saw my first NBA game at Madison Square Garden, I went to the top of the Empire State Building, and I saw the 9/11 memorial. As great as all of these moments were, my favorite part of the city, as usual, was seeing the advertisements in Times Square.

Advertising space in Times Square is really valuable, of course, because of the amount of people that are exposed to it. So, I decided to take a look at two ads that I saw and evaluate who is getting more for their money.

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