02 Apr Beyond the Bunny
Ali Burnett from ChurchAds.Net has been putting bunnies through boot-camp.
I have the Controller of Radio 4 to thank for a lightbulb moment …
At a Church and Media Network seminar, Gwyneth Williams was lamenting how, when she hears a brilliant programme, it gets an audience of “only” 3 million on a Monday at 3 pm, when so much work has gone into it. Yes, it may be repeated, but by and large, as they say in the fashion sales, “When it’s gone, it’s gone!”
Suddenly the Holy Spirit speaks; not in so many words, but the gist was: “See? It’s not about religious programmes any more, or your ego as the presenter. What you’re doing reaches far more people, because advertising gets repeated – not once but many times.”
In 2007, after 25 years in secular and religious broadcasting, I came across the work of ChurchAds.Net, the UK’s only ad agency for the Christian faith, and their excellent radio ads, now part of the nationwide “Christmas Starts With Christ” campaign. Since then, I’ve been a member of CA.N and privileged to have the role of liaison between the churches and the radio stations (churches don’t do radio, radio doesn’t understand church, so yours truly is piggy in the middle). It was inspiring to learn that 15 million people heard or saw the campaign in 2011.
But, great though CA.N’s efforts are, they are limited to once a year. And Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas.
In 2012, churches in Milton Keynes started using the CSWC radio ads on their local Heart station. In 2013, they linked them to a local website and measured the effectiveness via unique hits. By Christmas 2014, they had over 30 of the city’s churches, of all denominations, working together to raise money for airtime. They spent a modest £2.5k (modest when shared between 30 churches!) on reaching 100,000 Heart Radio listeners, for most of whom church, and faith, isn’t even a blip on their radar.
But so keen were these churches that, having attended one of my “Making Waves” media workshops, they ended up with too much money in their airtime budget. So they took the decision, for the first time ever, to use the surplus to create an all year round advertising budget and to start with that even more neglected time of year, from a PR perspective – Easter.
On Saturday 28 March, their radio campaign started on Heart MK. In 16 hours the click-through from the radio link had 854 views – the Easter Bunny had gone viral! And the best of it was that, based on Engels research, 85% of those clicks were from people who’d never go near an Easter service, and care about its meaning even less.
Please pray for our gracious God to use this initiative – and that more and more churches will catch on to what, for me, is blindingly obvious. To communicate with today’s world, we need to be not just in media but in advertising. It’s a no brainer.
For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Easter Blog”