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Contemporary TV spots to aid churches impact communities

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–“Fear. Anger. Violence. Hate.” The words flash on the screen over correspondingly harsh music and images: a street mugging, an alcoholic hitting his wife, a young boy mesmerized in front of a video game and marching white supremacists.
A young man dashes panicked through inner-city streets, suddenly facing a solid brick wall. Instantly, he then finds himself in the sanctuary of a church. “In a dangerous world, there is a refuge. The First Baptist Church of Bowling Green.”
It’s a powerful MTV-style television commercial, bristling with the fears that haunt so many today and offering a source of hope in the local church. The “Take Cover!” spot is one of four television commercials for local churches recently made available through the North American Mission Board’s media technology center.
The spots are offered in four media kits, each of which includes a personalized radio commercial, newspaper advertisement and television commercial based on a common theme. The campaigns are available individually for a one-year licensing fee, which gives a church exclusive rights to the ads in their particular market
The campaigns are the result of a partnership between the NAMB media technology center in Fort Worth, Texas — formerly the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission — and Phil Cooke, a nationally acclaimed Christian producer.
David Clark, director of NAMB’s media center, said the campaigns were designed to help churches present an effective evangelistic message in their advertising.
“In a recent survey, 60 percent of Southern Baptist churches said they wanted to use media to reach their communities for Christ,” he said. “This fits in well with one of our newest mandates in the Southern Baptist Convention restructuring. That is to assist churches in communication technology.”
Each of the campaigns is centered on a different theme, targeting a different audience. In addition to the “Take Cover!” campaign, there is:
— “Just Imagine,” which evokes soft, pleasant, family oriented imagery to convey the sense of peace and serenity found through the local church. “Imagine a place where words of hope and kindness fall like rain, where people find out who they are and who they are created to be,” the voice-over states. “A place where you can reveal your deepest secrets. A place where you can start over. Imagine a place where you can find a hope that never dies and love that never fails. Now, imagine that even in today’s world that place is closer than you would ever have imagined.” The name of the local SBC church follows.
— “Destination Eternity,” a fast-paced, high-tech look at how modern society has made getting lost virtually a thing of the past. “We’ve mapped the earth, the skies and the ocean floor. We’ve made satellite systems that track, triangulate and calculate exact global positions. We want to know where we’re going and how to get there.” Then comes the kicker, “But if you won’t even go out of town without a map, don’t go into eternity without one,” the ad says, followed by the local church tag.
— “Ray of Hope,” targeting young adults, features a man moving erratically through a dimly lit abandoned building shutting window shutters. “Light,” he says, in short, clipped phrases. “Take it for granted. Think about it. Nothing would grow without light. Nothing would grow. We’d have no trees, no flowers, no nothing. There would be this chaos, this eternal fear, this constant aching of I don’t know where I am. You’d feel alone. All the time. I mean, that’s the way things would be, right. Nothing but this hopeless perpetual midnight. Welcome to my world,” he says, holding up a lit match in a close-up. “There is light,” the ad concludes, followed by the name of the church where that light can be found.
The ads can be used in a variety of ways by churches: some may use them for regular paid advertising for the church; others might convince stations to run them as public service announcements. In at least one case, a 30-second spot was used in place of one of the regular advertisements a church receives from a station for buying the weekly time slot for its worship service.
At Whitesburg Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala., media coordinator Jo Karr said she purchased all four campaigns as soon as she heard of them because of the church’s continuing need for quality, effective advertising. On billboards and print, she said, they have run many announcement-type ads. But on television they like to use something with a message.
“I think they’ve done an excellent job. … We needed something of that quality,” she said, noting they are at least as good as the widely acclaimed ads used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). “These are the best that I’ve seen that are put out exclusively for Christian groups,” she said.
For information on advertising licensing, contact Stan Grubb, affiliate relations associate for the NAMB media technology group, at 1-800-292-2287.

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  • James Dotson