It's Jubilee Day and I have a little something for you

Today is Jubilee Day™, "the largest, longest running one-day street fair in the eastern part of the United States." For a small town like ours, 60,000 attendees is nothing to sneeze at. 

The Old Testament Jubilee Day was nothing to sneeze at either. You can read about it in Leviticus 25 and imagine what restoring justice, correcting misfortunes, liberating servants and the like would have done for small towns 3500 years ago (and what this list would do for us today). 

I'm not sure cotton candy or a puppet show will provide anything in the way of justice for me and the kids this afternoon, but I'm sure it will bring a bit of jubilation. And I thought I could bring a bit of jubilation to you, too.

On Earth as It is in Advertising?
I don't have any special prizes or kick up your heels deals, but in honor of all things Jubilee maybe I can make you a little happier and a little more aware of injustice with a book offer. In 2005, Brazos Press published On Earth as It is in Advertising? Moving from Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope. It was reprinted this spring by Wipf & Stock.

I don't talk much about On Earth for a couple of reasons: 1) Self-promotion feels salesy to me, and 2) An early negative review took wind out of my sails.

Yet it's a book about injustice that every TV-watching, magazine-reading, banner ad-viewing, mall-visiting human being encounters: Bad advertising. Because I care about work and its relationship to neighbors, and because I care about the specific work of advertising being done well and right, I consider "SimGospel" advertising to be an injustice.

Critics and Endorsers
Read the original Publishers Weekly review that dropped my sails (and sales) and then read the very different endorsements on the back cover. If you're looking for a Summer read, pick up a copy. (The reprint on the right has a different cover but the content is the same).


Geeks, Mormons and Wireless Evangelists

I think I'm getting wireless internet. I know, it's been around, like, forever, but we haven't needed it. Let me clarify: I haven't needed it. I work from home and hog up the computer. Even when it's available, my cluttered office works against the peaceful setting Julie would appreciate. She and our kids want their own space with a used laptop she just got from an IT friend.

But I don't know much about wireless. This two-page ad I found in the magazine archives (2007?) suggests that I should be concerned. I guess I knew that already so I'll concentrate instead on the number of interesting cultural connections it makes:

1. STDs = "If you have wireless, you could be giving wireless to everyone."

2. Ribbon campaigns = "Wireless Awareness."
3. Mormons = "Agent Samuel J. has a serious talk with his customer about network protection and the dangers of spreading wireless all over town." (I get the danger part, but are they hinting that Mormons spread good news or bad news? Or is the news good but the spreading is bad, or is the news bad but the spreading is good? Mixed metaphors always throw me.)

4. Greasy black hair = Geek Squad Agents (Emphasis on geek.)

5. Irony related to #1 = "Go ahead. Use us."

Perhaps most interesting to me is that if you were culturally ignorant, none of these references would make sense, leaving the ad entirely void of persuasion. This is risky but it's also a reminder that consumers collaborate (regardless of willingness) with advertisers to make ads work.

Click on the images to enlarge them.


The devil is sometimes green

"Does anyone ever question what green actually means? And why is it so important to just be green. What about how these companies treat their employees, give to their communities or provide more to the world than just another product or service?"

I always appreciate neighborly questions related to marketing. They're the Can I borrow your watering can? and Do you need a hand with your gutter? questions of the ad industry.

Matthew Ammirati asked the green questions today at MediaPost - the "largest and most influential media, marketing and advertising site on the net, providing news, blogs, directories to help our community of more than 100,000 members better plan and buy both traditional and online advertising."

I add MediaPost's bio because that's quite an audience for Ammirati's questions about multi-level moral questions.

Furnaces and everything else
As a consumer, I confess that our recent decision to replace a dysfunctional furnace was only as green as the tax credit we'd get in 2011. I actually do care quite a bit about earth care, partly because so much of my professional life has been based in the outdoors, but also because it is a biblical concern based on one of the earliest commandments and supported throughout the Old and New Testaments. Yet I'm still motivated by what so many green-in-name-only companies know all too well:

I'll buy what complements my wallet.

Ammirati, on a marketing-centric website of all places, calls me and green card carrying companies alike to a more mature treatment of the issue. "[H]ow can we as marketers not succumb to the pressures of green-washing and lend our support to companies that are truly doing good in the world?" he asks. "It comes down to evaluating how a company treats its employees, its impact on the community, and whether the company is a good steward of the environment."

Employee care? Community concern? These are general good will questions and more than typical green questions, but they're also Jesus questions. They have Good Samaritan and foot-washing written all over them. Furthermore, Ammirati isn't a local environmental club spokesperson. He and his company serve "over 350 companies across 55 industries representing over $1.2 billion in revenues." As he puts it, "This is not some hippie, crunchy granola group of activist companies getting together to talk to themselves."

Explicit and implicit faith
I don't know Ammirati's faith background, or whether his Trustee meetings open in a word of prayer. I wouldn't be surprised though if they did. What I do know is that his questions are questions I need to ask more often. And when those questions threaten my wallet, I need to find adequate solutions.

The task of living Christianly as a consumer is near paralyzing, but Jesus knew I'd feel paralyzed in the myriad of decisions to make, didn't he?

Read the rest of Ammirati's article, Is It Enough to Be Green? What about Being Good?

Note on the painting: Wikipedia's caption reads: "In the 15th century 'Saint Wolfgang and the Devil' by Michael Pacher, the Devil is green. Poets such as Chaucer also drew connections between the color green and the devil." The painting jumped out at me with its use of color, especially considering the reactions some in the Church have had to earth care as well as separations others have made from green's biblical roots. Plus it's a particularly bizarre depiction of the devil, isn't it?


Oreo: Milk's Favorite Summer Dip

I'm not a die-hard Oreo fan, but they're good, no doubt, and I'm a sucker for creative advertising like this pool ad. And it takes me back to the first two-thirds of my life when every cookie I ever ate went into the glass of milk.  Not just to be dipped or dunked, but immersed and left to sink for a surprise drink ending.  

If you're an Oreo fan, I mentioned them one other time here and the picture I featured may be the most beautiful and tantalizing cookie photo I've ever seen.

Here's to a refreshing summer!


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