A 30-second commercial, designed to raise awareness of Unitarian Universalism, will be appearing eight times a day on the NBC Panasonic Astrovision Screen today through November 27 and December 23 to January 1. The spot will run during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the annual Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, and 36 million people will see it over the 24-day period, according to the UUA’s marketing outreach consultant, Valerie Holton.
The opportunity for the $60,000 ad campaign, which is completely funded by private donations, came when O’hsin Technology, a company that sells advertising space, approached the UUA after seeing the Association’s pilot media campaign in Kansas City. The company contacted the Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris, director of congregational services, and donors from several parts of the country supplied the funds.
The spot shows images of men, women, children, and families, alongside the phrases “Imagine a religion open and searching,” “Children learn love not fear,” “Everybody matters,” and “Different beliefs, one faith.” It concludes with a reference to the UUA’s website, www.uua.org.
Using large outdoor screens for religious advertising has precedent. The United Methodist Church ran a series of ads in Times Square in 2003. Later that year the National Council of Churches and United Methodist Communications cosponsored large television screen messages at the New York City entrance to the Holland Tunnel.
The campaign’s goal is brand awareness, said Holton, not necessarily a surge in church attendance. “We need to get our name--and our values--out for the world to see.” She said she hopes people will eventually visit the UUA’s website and find a congregation.
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