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Friday, September 14, 2007

UUA announces national marketing campaign.

On Thursday, the Unitarian Universalist Association announced its first national marketing campaign in decades. The campaign involves full-page ads in Time, a print-online sponsorship of Time's religion articles archive, and online advertising at Resources available so far include UUA President Bill Sinkford's letter to congregations introducing the campaign, an expanded description of the October-December advertising initiative in Time magazine, information about a DVD introducing Unitarian Universalism that will be mailed to all congregations later this month (disclosure: I'm one of the talking heads midway through the film), some frequently asked questions, and contact information if you want to learn more.

The national marketing initiative will run concurrently with the regional marketing campaign in the San Francisco Bay Area, which I introduced earlier.

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 14 September 2007 at 8:57 AM

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September 14, 2007 11:09 AM | Permalink for this comment

Why is Time magazine targeted and not Newsweek? I think it is a pretty conservative magazine. Is this the reader segment UUs want to reach out to?

BTW, is it for the US edition only, or also for international editions? Sending a message to the world, anyone?

Dudley Jones:

September 14, 2007 12:01 PM | Permalink for this comment

Will this presentation be candid about how intensely many UUs dislike the religion of their neighbors?


September 14, 2007 12:11 PM | Permalink for this comment

Jaume, it is a national — not international — marketing campaign.

I'm curious about the choice of magazines, too. Time reaches more people than Newsweek, and it's "Person of the Year" issue (which I've heard is one of the issues that will feature UUA ads) is a newsstand bestseller. One way of interpreting this is that the UUA is aiming at the cultural center, or at the widest possible audience. Also: Online, it's partnered with CNN, whereas Newsweek is partnered with the Washington Post, Slate, and MSNBC.

Here's some recent data comparing the audiences of American newsweeklies.

Dudley, some of the information for congregations is aimed at helping UUs become genuinely welcoming. This work will be challenging for some people, but I can only hope that a growing number of UUs are learning how to disagree without being disagreeable.


September 14, 2007 05:47 PM | Permalink for this comment

It's all about product placement. A campaign titled "Now is the Newsweek" just didn't sound right.

More seriously, A lot of people feel there is something unethical about "advertorials". In particular, the UUA boasts that Time's logo will appear in the UUA's ad, implying endorsement. This sort of thing is explicitly forbidden by the ASME code of ethics

Thoughts Chris?

Scott Wells:

September 14, 2007 07:56 PM | Permalink for this comment

I know it comes from a place of snark, but my first gut thought when reading this was "What? Was Look too expensive? Or Saturday Evening Post?

It just seems a dull choice.


September 14, 2007 08:43 PM | Permalink for this comment

Maybe a more fun thing is 'what magazine should this ad be run in?' I was going to say "or what TV show?", but I knew the answer was going to be: UUs don't watch TV :-) .


September 15, 2007 10:22 AM | Permalink for this comment

Yeah, the UUA is always talking about "the world" and it is very "universal", but in the end all they do is "national"...

I will write about this one day, when I am in the right mood.


September 15, 2007 10:30 AM | Permalink for this comment

Regarding "advertorials": I've seen one mockup for the kind of so-called advertorial the UUA is buying in Time, but I am not part of the staff team that is responsible for this campaign and can't comment officially on it; you would need to address your question to Susanna Whitman.

Maintaining a clear separation between paid content and editorial content is important to me as an editor and as a reader. I'm fairly sure that Time observes the ASME guidelines.

My sense is that the term "advertorial" may be somewhat misleading because the UUA isn't placing the kind of content described in, say, the Wikipedia entry for the term. (It isn't paying to place a promotional article in the magazine, for example, like the healthcare sections that pharmaceuticals pay to insert in newspaper magazines.) Instead, the UUA is "sponsoring" a promotion — the magazine's online religion articles archives — which means that it is getting exclusive advertising rights on that part of for a given duration.

I haven't seen the ads the UUA is developing for use on the Web. I suspect that Time jealously guards its "brand" and is giving clear guidance around how its logo can be used by the UUA.

Scott Wells (Boy in the Bands):

September 15, 2007 12:36 PM | Permalink for this comment

I hope you're right about the "advertoria" because when I see "special advertising section" in a periodical, I think "I"m about to be lied-to."


September 15, 2007 03:14 PM | Permalink for this comment

I agree with the first poster. I would think that the TYPE of reader who would pick up Newsweek rather than Time would tend to be more liberal in outlook and more receptive to the UU message.


September 15, 2007 09:56 PM | Permalink for this comment

Our church has a lot of programming in place to welcome visitors and seekers but we know that isn't typical. Wouldn't it have been WONDERFUL if the honchos at 25 had thought about letting the congregations know a bit in advance that it would be buying all this expensive advertising!!???
As in, "In a year from now you're likely to get a lot of seekers coming through your doors. Here are some ways you can get ready for that."

But naw... that would be way too practical and cooperative.

Steve Caldwell:

September 16, 2007 08:02 AM | Permalink for this comment

On 15 September 2007, Peacebang wrote:
"Wouldn't it have been WONDERFUL if the honchos at 25 had thought about letting the congregations know a bit in advance that it would be buying all this expensive advertising!!???"

Perhaps congregations should be ready to offer hospitality at all times?

Yes, I know it's fashionable among some Unitarian Universalists to gripe about the folks at 25 Beacon Street. But do we need to be notified in advance to welcome those who visit us?

In any case, the hospitality resources have always been there -- ask and you shall receive:

Hospitality and Belonging Resources (new site)

Hospitality & Belonging (old site resources from earlier "Uncommon Denomination" marketing campaign)

Frequently Asked Questions About Growth (old site)

Frequently Asked Questions About Membership (old site)


September 16, 2007 01:33 PM | Permalink for this comment

I've written a lot at the little message board about perceived confusion over whether UUA is simply a corporate enterprise--an attempt to express liberal religious principles, priorities, etc., on a national front-- OR does it profess to be something larger? Is its reason for being simply to serve "member congregations" (and supporting individuals) or to also be the default "evangelistic voice" of the radically-liberal end of the religious spectrum?

Chris, I wonder also to what extent this ad campaign extends to the Canadian Unitarians, or is it just USA only?


September 16, 2007 03:53 PM | Permalink for this comment

Ron, you'd want to ask denominational leaders your questions. My interpretation of the current UUA board and moderator's approach is that they put a lot of stock in the idea "congregations come first." The staff leadership certainly perceives its mandate to be serving the UUA's member congregations, which is what the bylaws say it should be (C-2.2).

Canadian Unitarian churches are (on the whole) served by the Canadian Unitarian Council rather than by the UUA. A national marketing campaign is aimed at U.S. residents.

Kim Hampton:

September 16, 2007 06:26 PM | Permalink for this comment

Steve C.,
I think you are reading PeaceBang's comment differently than she wrote it.

As I read it, she was not saying that 25 needed to inform congregations to be welcoming; but that it would have been nice if 25 had informed congregations of WHEN a new marketing campaign was going to get started.

Some things are just courtesy. (I know that's an outdated notion in this day and age, but some of us still believe in it) And being courteous is not that hard...why not tell people that you're going to start a campaign in October and that you might have more visitors than usual? A line in the monthly mailing to congregations or an email from whatever department is handling the campaign would have been sufficient.

At least that's what I got from Madam PeaceBang.

Mrs. C:

September 16, 2007 07:20 PM | Permalink for this comment

PB and others, I'm not particularly concerned about lots of new visitors coming thanks to TIME or the local 15 second announcements on our local NPR station this week. We had plenty of visitors at church this morning (as we usually do) and it seems zero came motivated by the first part of the Bay Area outreach campaign, at least according to the complex record keeping system set up! Friends, neighbors and family bringing visitors leads the way. (Just as most church growth studies would indicate).

No doubt some come from beliefnet, or our website or some other longing for community, god and healing. Other guests/visitors just live in our neighborhood and hear the music and come in, looking for spiritual fulfillment, or food, or bus fare. Alas, we didn't have anyway today to communicate effectively with the women who didn't speak English but braved coffee hour, anyhow. And we are a bit ambivalent about extending a true welcome to the homeless and addicted who stagger in, too.

Still, the anticipated "wave" of visitors some expect from tv ads on the Colbert Report and John Stewart are making folks crazy with hospitality "projects" while as usual, there were newcomers wandering coffee hour all alone. And, I'm not sure if it's a good thing that one guy who came looking for money found it in our "coffee donations" basket and walked off with it...

Not a fan of the UUA money being spent this way, and suspicious of the counting procedures (of previous campaigns) that have justified the expenses of human and financial resources on this type of "evangelism."


October 6, 2007 10:03 AM | Permalink for this comment

The Time ad (headline: "Is God Keeping You from Church?", pdf) appeared on newsstands yesterday. Among early blog reviews: The LiveJournalers like it; John Cullinan is not at all impressed; Ron Robinson thinks the ad asks the wrong question, proposing "Is Church Keeping You from God?" instead.

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