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Telling the Christmas story in a new way — with a stopwatch

09 October 2008

by Ed Beavan

THE Churches Advertising Network (CAN) continues its series of quirky commercials for Christmas with the launch of this year’s campaign.

Now in its 17th year, the cam­paign has had mixed reactions in the past. In 1999, a poster of Jesus that morphed into the iconic image of the revolutionary Communist leader Che Guevara had the words “Meek. Mild. As If” beneath it. In 1996, another poster suggested that the Virgin Mary was having a “bad hair day” when she discovered she was preg­nant.

For this year’s radio advertise­ments, the ecumenical group has used football and horse-racing commentaries to describe the Christmas story. The key message of the campaign is: “Be part of the action”, and people are encouraged to discover the real meaning of Christmas at their local church.

As part of the campaign, CAN has launched a competition chal­lenging people to retell the Christ­mas story in 30 seconds. There is a £500 prize for the best entry.

The chairman of CAN, Francis Goodwin, explained that the competition was inspired by research by the think tank Theos, which suggested that only 12 per cent of adults in the UK have a detailed knowledge of the Christ­mas story, and only seven per cent of 18-to-24-year-olds.

“The idea was generated from this research, and what we do is a catalyst to help churches retell the Christmas story. We hope they will use them as tools for this, as there is a big job to be done to tell this generation the Christmas story.”

The biggest financial backer of the campaign is Jerusalem Produc­tions, a Christian media company.

To listen to the radio advertise­ments, and to get more information on the competition, visit www.churchads.org.uk.

No repetition or deviation: a com­peti­tion run by Ecclesiastical In­surance, TrueMeaning, is challenging young people to use their mobile phone, laptop, or camcorder to pro­duce a video clip showing what they believe Christmas is really about — but it must last no longer than one minute. Judges are hoping that entrants will "let their creativity run wild". All films must be endorsed by a church or youth-group leader, and the winner will receive £3000. Entries can be viewed at www.truemeaning.co.uk . The competition closes today.

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