Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jesus Sells

First of all, let me start out by saying that my intention is not to offend anyone, nor is it to sacrilege that which is sacred to many.  I also think it prudent to mention that I am a devout Christian, and I am an ardent believer in the Divinity of Jesus the Christ.  Don’t worry: This is not a religious blog by any means.

I do have to point out that, just like sex, Jesus sells.  I have seen a rash of marketing ploys lately that are incredulously and blatantly sacrilegious.  I saw the following sign as I was traveling through the thriving metropolis of Lake Providence, Louisiana


I am pretty sure that Jesus never sat down with his disciples to a nice hot cup of joe, especially since the first evidence of coffee as a beverage dates back to only the 17th century.  That and the fact that Jesus was never a college student, or struggling musician.

You certainly have seen the WWJD bracelets.  Here Jesus is leveraged in order to market seven dollar bracelets that cost pennies to make.  Jesus is very marketable, especially compared to other religions’ deities:  I have yet to see any WWMD (What Would Muhammad Do) or WWBD (What Would Buddah Do), or WWSD (What Would Shiva Do) bracelets.  There is, however a WWOD (What Would Obama Do) bracelet.  I am going to run out and buy that bad boy in a microsecond.

Sometimes Jesus is used to market, well, Christianity, especially the evangelical kind.  No one can argue the prowess of the Jim Bakker PTL Cash Machine, which in its prime made over $100M per year!

Probably my personal favorite example of how Jesus (or rather the name) has been used to raise cash is a fellow who used to work for me in Indianapolis by the name of Jesus Turk.  Jesus (pronounced like deity, not the Hispanic pronunciation Hey-Suese) was, in addition to being a factory worker by day, a rap artist who went under the nom de plum of Black Jesus.  He had a brief moment of fame when the video of his single, What That Thang Smell Like (Warning, video is NSFW (not safe for work).  Actually, it is not safe for any situation for that matter), appeared on BET: Un-cut.  True to his stage name, he is both black, and named Jesus.

Another favorite example of Jesus being used to market a particular congregation is in Monroe, Ohio, easily visible from from I-75.  This example is affectionately known as the “touchdown Jesus.”  Apparently it is also known as the YMCA Jesus.

Sometimes, apparently, Jesus alone is not enough to sell certain versions of Christianity.  Take for example a church down the road that I have heard referred to as “Six Flags Over Jesus”  Here is a photo:


This photo doesn’t really do it justice.  It has, in addition to a huge amphitheater, a gym with two regulation basketball courts, a weight room, a cardio room, a craft room and a tenth of a mile long walking track.  I forgot to mention the Children’s theater.  Although most artists’ renderings of Jesus show him to be athletic, I doubt if he went to a gym to do cardio.

If Big isn’t your thing, you can try the Biker’s Church.  Apparently the Harley Davidson Marketing Machine is also being used by some to market Jesus.  I guess if it brings some closer to Christ, more power to them.

I guess that the thing that concerns me, is that rarely in our culture do you see examples of Jesus being used to sell what I believe to be the real message of Jesus: Love.  Selflessness.  Service.  Forgiveness.  Charity.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Finding your ride

Have you ever had trouble finding your car in a crowded parking lot?  Ever almost get into the wrong car by mistake?  It is a common problem here in America.  The incredibly viable Super-Walmart business model has spawned a new generation of super-parking lots.  That, coupled with Americans’ propensity to buy SUV’s that are offered in only about four colors makes it easy to walk to the wrong car sometimes.

This isn’t just a new phenomenon, either.  Years ago, my grandmother once borrowed my uncle’s Chevy and headed to the grocery store.  When she came out, she put the groceries in the trunk and drove off.  About half way home she thought to herself, “my, my, Reed’s car sure seems clean, and I can’t smell cigarettes, either.”  When she got home, my Uncle Reed noticed that it wasn’t his car at all, and drove it back to the grocery store where he swapped it for his car.  Back then GM only made about 20 variations on their keys, and my Grandmother just got lucky.  True story.

I guess the car confusion issue is why many car owners are resorting to decals that uniquely distinguish their car from others’ cars.  Here is a shot of a car I saw on my way to work.  I am certain that you have seen these on the roads of America, too.

Car Decals

In this example, the driver needs a second reminder which car is hers so she also has her name on a vanity plate.

How cute to have a pictorial reminder of your family on the back window of your car!  Maybe these decals are intended to also remind forgetful parents of all the members of their family so they won’t leave any kids behind at a rest stop (more of a problem when you have six kids like Shonda). That happened once to my mom in Utah when she was a little kid.  She had an older sister and three younger siblings and my grandparents drove off and left her there.  About 100 miles later they realized that they had left my mom just like poor little Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.  Yes, same grandmother, and Uncle Reed was just a toddler back then.

This whole stick figure family decal thing has me wondering if celebrity families do the same thing.  Do Jon & Kate Plus Eight have ten little figures on the back of their Econoline van?  If so, has Kate scratched Jon off so there is now only nine figures?  Does Rosie O’Donnell’s car have a large lady, a thin lady and four confused-looking kids?

I wonder if there is a niche market for custom-made decals for celebrities.  If so, I think I would be a great designer.  Check out the one I designed for Elin and Tiger Woods:

Tiger Woods 

I also made one for the TomKat family as well.  For those of you who don’t read People magazine while you are in the checkout line in Walmart, TomKat is the nickname of the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes family.  Tom Cruise, a devout L. Ron Hubbard fan, is 16 years the senior of Katie.  Tom, like his mentor Hubbard, is on his third marriage to progressively younger women.  Like Hubbard, Tom also left children without their dad along the way.  Good luck, Katie!  Hope he sticks around when you hit 40!

Tom Katie 

If you aren’t really into the family thing, you have other decal options.  There is the ever-popular Calvin peeing on a Ford symbol.  In fact, you can get Calvin peeing on just about anything you want, except, perhaps in a urinal.

IF you are into hunting and you are a Saints Fan, you could get one of these:


If you are serious about making your ride recognizably yours and you have a testosterone deficiency, you should try Bumper Nuts.  Very classy.  Nothing says sophistication like Bumper Nuts. 

In any case, I have found an even better way to find my car in a crowded lot even though it is decal-free.  I hit the panic button on my key fob and follow the sound of the honking.  Sometimes I will do that even if I can see my car, especially if kids are walking by it.