THE ecumenical charity ChurchAds.net launched its Christmas
advertising campaign this week. A poster portrays the infant Jesus
as a child's doll, next to the slogan: "Godbaby. He cries. He wees.
He saves the world."
The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, said that the
image "will surprise some and disturb others, which is exactly what
the real Jesus did. And it forces us beyond the tinsel to the human
reality of God among us."
The poster is the latest in the campaign "Christmas Starts with
Christ", which has been running for four years. It is supported by
Premier Christian Media and the Jerusalem Trust. Last year, it
recast the nativity scene, and portrayed "trendy twenty-somethings"
dressed in designer clothes, offering luxury gifts at the crib (News,
9 September 2011).
A ChurchAds.net trustee, Mike Elms, said that the campaign
"places a Christ-focused message at the heart of the seasonal
consumerism: on shopping-centre posters; on commercial radio; in
the pages of our daily newspapers. It's a striking, contemporary,
and very simple way of communicating the nativity message that
Christ, fully divine and fully human, came to us for our
ChurchAds.net is "asking individuals and churches to donate to a
national Christmas advertising fund to finance posters in places
such as bus stops, and to buy airtime for specially commissioned
radio ads, and space in national and regional newspapers.
The executive director of the London Institute for Contemporary
Christianity, Mark Greene, said that the poster "simultaneously
undermines two corrosive, contemporary beliefs: Jesus is not just a
mythic baby to coo at, he is God; and his birth isn't primarily a
marketing trigger for buying toys and gifts, it's a moment to
remember how desperately we need God."
The poster brought differing reactions from advertising
professionals. The Director General of the Institute of
Practitioners in Advertising, Paul Bainsfair, said: "The first rule
of advertising is to get noticed. . . It's a fresh idea that will
remind everyone about the story at the heart of Christmas."
But Tom Bazeley, of the London agency Lean Mean Fighting
Machine, said that it "feels like a rather confused attempt to be
culturally relevant". Jacob Denno, of Fold7, said: "We're all for
religious iconography and the Church updating its image, but this
may be a little wayward, to say the least."