An advertising executive named Nick approached Christ after the feeding of the 5,000. He came at night as he wasn’t quite sure if Jesus would be a good fit for GC (Great Communications), the leading advertising agency that he worked for.
“It’s great to meet you at last,” said Nick. “You know, you’re quite the talk of the town. You’ve definitely got something special. I heard there were over 5,000 people at today’s gig. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you manage to get such a big crowd?”
“I believe it was word of mouth,” said Jesus.
“What, no media spend?” countered Nick. “Come on, you can tell me. I’m guessing there must have been some advertising. Was it billboards, direct mail, perhaps some undercover fly-posting?
“No, I’m telling you...” said Jesus.
“Oh, wait,” said Nick, as if he hadn’t even heard Jesus. “Maybe some old-fashioned telemarketing, too. I know it’s underrated these days, but it still works; as long as you’ve got a decent list.”
“Really, I can assure you,” said Jesus. But Nick still wasn’t listening.
“I think I’ve got it,” said Nick. “It’s just that I didn’t figure you for being such an on-trend guy. You actually ran a social media campaign, didn’t you? Still, to draw that crowd takes something special.”
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them,” said Jesus.
“So your Father is involved in this business, too? I like it. Father and Son has great family appeal. Look, whatever you did, it worked; you had the whole crowd with you, but at the end of the day, I’m not sure what you said, but many walked away. And that kind of churn rate definitely impacts revenue. Can I be honest with you?”
“Honesty is one of the values that is really important to me,” replied Jesus.
“I think you could be really big,” said Nick. “But the truth is you need a little from the experts.”
“And is that where you come in?” asked Jesus. “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So you’re right, I could always use a little extra help.”
“I thought so,” said Nick. “Let’s not waste any time. I need to ask you some questions, the answers to which will form the basis of my recommendations for a successful marketing strategy. Together, I’m sure we can take the world by storm.”
“Storms are no problem for me,” said Jesus.
“Now, you’ve obviously got quite a following,” said Nick, “but I’m not clear what the main attraction is. People are always interested in the next big thing. Usually, it turns out to be a passing fad, but sometimes we get a game-changer. Which are you?”
“I think you’ll find, I’m the game-changer of game-changers! There’s never been anyone like me before, and no one like me will come after,” said Jesus.
“Love that boldness,” replied Nick. “And that confidence will play very well to the mass media. But I’ll need a short pitch; you know a soundbite to get their interest. Just tell me in one sentence the big idea — your ultimate purpose. Give me your elevator pitch.”
Jesus thought for a moment and looked Nick straight in the eye and said: “You must be born again.”
Nick looked confused. “What? That’s definitely short and sweet but perhaps a little too abstract. Let’s try again, this time with a little more clarity so that absolutely anybody can understand it.”
Jesus didn’t hesitate. “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God, but God shows his love for the world that even while all are sinners, he has sent his Son, to die for everyone.”
“No, no, no! That’s where you’re going wrong,” said Nick. “All this talk of sin and death. Little wonder, they walked away. Don’t you have any other language that’s not quite so off-putting?”
“Try this,” said Jesus: “I came so that everyone can have life, and have it in all its abundance.”
“Abundance? I love it,” said Nick. “Everyone wants abundance. Now you’re on the right track. Oh yes, abundance — that’s a vision anyone can buy into. Okay, we’ve got the vision down, what we need now is a mission statement.”
“Mission statement?” questioned Jesus.
“Yes, we’re going to give them a vision of abundant life,” said Nick, “but how do they get it? What do you want them to do?”
“Nothing,” said Jesus. “They just need to receive it. It’s a gift.”
“Nothing!” exclaimed Nick. “But they must do something. How are we ever going to know who they are if they don’t do something?”
Jesus looked at Nick directly again and said, “They must be born again.”
“Look, I don’t even know what that means,” said Nick. “Let me be more direct. How are we going to get this message to go viral? That’s the mission,” he continued.
“Oh, that’s easy,” said Jesus. “Go into all the world, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to do everything I have told you.”
“I wasn’t expecting that,” said Nick. “All nations, eh? Now you’re thinking like a genuine marketeer. World domination! Take the brand global; I like it. But let’s get real, that’s a big ask for a small, not very well resourced organization.”
“We’ll start in Jerusalem,” said Jesus, “and then Samaria and then…”
“And then to the ends of the earth, eh?” laughed Nick, interrupting Jesus. “You’ve obviously been thinking about this. And I do like clients who are truly invested in their projects, but…”
“Oh, I’m totally invested,” said Jesus. “Nothing in all the universe will stop me from giving everything I have to make this work.”
“Talking of work,” said Nick, “I hope you realize that this branding is no easy task. It takes years of expertise, professional insight, and creativity to formulate an appropriate growth strategy for a start-up brand like this.”
“Yes, thank you,” said Jesus, “I appreciate you making time from your busy schedule just to come and see me. And I’m sure coming at this time of night can only be a sign of your dedication,” continued Jesus.
“Moving on,” said Nick quickly, “we’ve got a lot to get through, and I was wondering if you had given any thought to brand values?”
“As a matter of fact, I have ten which I wrote myself some time ago,” replied Jesus.
“Ten might be pushing it,” said Nick. “Today’s audiences have such short attention spans.”
“So, I suppose you’d like the shortened soundbite version?” asked Jesus.
“I really think you’re beginning to catch on to how marketing works,” replied Nick.
“‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” said Jesus.
Nick hesitated before saying, “That’s good. It really is. Might be a little too authoritarian for the millennials, though. Kids these days, just don’t want to be told what to do.”
Jesus paused for a while before offering, “Do to others, as you would have them do to you.”
“Love it,” said Nick, “the ‘you’ puts them back at the center of things. That should work beautifully. And talking of beauty, I hope you’re going to tell me that you’ve got a beautiful, well-crafted logo by a professional designer?”
“Do I need one?” asked Jesus.
“Of course, you do!” said Nick. “You can’t build a global brand without a recognizable logo. How else will you differentiate yourself from your competitors? And don’t forget the merchandise. It’s not merchandise without a logo. Anyway, we’ve got to monetize this thing, or how else am I going to get paid?”
“In that case, the logo would have to be an old rugged cross,” said Jesus.
“That really doesn’t sound too sexy,” said Nick.
“It’s not sexy at all,” said Jesus, “but it will be a powerful symbol of my imminent sacrificial death in order to bring life to a world of lost sinners.”
“There you go again with your death talk,” sighed Nick. “Is that really necessary?”
“I think you’ll find it goes to the heart of the matter,” said Jesus “but if we’re going to need a logo, then it has to be the cross.”
“Okay okay, I suppose we can work with a cross, if we have to,” said Nick. “I don’t think anyone else is using one. Perhaps I’ll get one of our designers to give it a neon glow. After all, if I’m not mistaken, I think I recall hearing somewhere that you made a claim about being the light of the world.”
“You heard right,” said Jesus.
“You know, this is beginning to sound like a really big project,” said Nick, “like you want to change the world or something.”
“I think you’re catching on,” said Jesus. “Not so much change the world — as save the world,” he continued.
“I’ve been thinking,” said Nick, “the only way this is going to take off is if we get some celebrity brand ambassadors on board.”
“Brand ambassadors?” questioned Jesus.
“Brand ambassadors,” said Nick, “are people who will use their time, talents and influence to promote your brand or message. It’s amazing really, many of them will even do it for free!”
“Interesting you should say that,” said Jesus, “because I’ve actually been training a team of 12 ambassadors as you would call them, and I think they’re nearly ready to get the good news out. I wouldn’t call them celebrities exactly, but I can promise you that soon the world will know who they are.”
“Fantastic,” said Nick, “because we’re nearly ready to launch this brand. Just one more very important issue to deal with. We need a brand promise that will really engage the target audience.”
“Brand promise?” questioned Jesus. “Is that really necessary?”
“Oh, it’s vital,” said, Nick. “Your brand promise tells the world your purpose, and it provides direction for marketing. It goes to the heart of the customer experience. It’s what your brand tells the world to expect from you. Your brand promise is the unique promise of value you make to your target market. It is the essence of what you have to offer. It clarifies and communicates what makes you special — what makes you different from others.”
“Now I can see why you say it’s so important,” admitted Jesus. “It seems this promise has to deliver on huge expectations.”
“The important thing,” said Nick, “is that the brand promise is kept or you’ll lose credibility.”
“Well, we wouldn’t want that,” said Jesus.
Nick continued, “So, it’s got to be authentic. It can’t just be a cute slogan. It’s got to be something real you can deliver, otherwise you won’t retain the trust of the people who you are trying to reach.”
“And all in one short, memorable soundbite, I suppose?” asked Jesus.
“You’re learning fast,” replied Nick.
“Give me a moment,” said Jesus. And with that, he wandered off into the garden, a short distance away and looked up to the heavens as if he was praying. In the meantime, Nick was checking through his Marketing Strategy playbook to make sure he’d covered everything. He was wondering, “Could Jesus be the best client ever? Or was he dealing with a deluded daydreamer? And what would the principals of the firm think?” He would have to get their approval. After all, GC had their reputation to maintain and they only worked with the real thing, blue-chip clients.
Just then, Jesus reappeared and said, “I think I’ve got it. See if this works for you: ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.’”
“Love it!” said Nick. “It clearly identifies the target market. It outlines the problem that needs to be solved, and it gives the solution. You’re really quite good at this; maybe you should come and work for us. I know all the top guys, I could always put a good word in for you.”
“I’ve got a feeling that they’re not really going to be interested,” said Jesus.
“Anyway,” said Nick, “in the meantime, about the message for the T-shirts—”
Jesus put his arms around Nick as he was leaving and whispered in his ear, “You must be born again!”
Mervyn Weir is a UK-based Marketing Consultant and Creative Communications specialist who uses the arts and media to help organizations communicate effectively. He is also a playwright and filmmaker who uses these same skills to share the gospel.
Image courtesy of the author.
We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.