Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.
I wanted to be mad at this Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) ad, which will soon be placed in the New York Times. It calls for Catholics to take action against the Catholic Church’s opposition to free-contraception-for-all. The action FFRF recommends? Quitting the church. Check it out:
When groups cry out against religion and church and call it all negative, I get a bit perturbed. Are there negative things inside the Catholic Church (and all churches)? Certainly. Broken actions come from broken people who form broken institutions — and last I checked, no person is perfect, including those who are anti-church/religion/God. Institutions of faith aren’t the sole purveyors of damaging actions. I’m guessing FFRF is not immune from humanity.
So FFRF’s position is flawed. But after analyzing the ad’s messaging, I found some logic — sad logic, but true logic nonetheless. Let me walk you through it.
Target Audience: Liberal and Nominal Catholics
Creative Strategy: Humor to break through marketplace noise / Persuasion to convince target of the Catholic Church’s irrelevancy and lack of authority
Call to Action: Leave the Catholic Church / Join FFRF
Unique Selling Position: There is a more welcoming home for you! (at FFRF)
What I find most interesting is how FFRF appeals to Liberal and Nominal Catholics. According to FFRF, this subgroup has already detached from the Catholic Church by ignoring its stance on contraceptive usage. FFRF points out the discrepancy between the subgroup’s actions and the Catholic Church’s stance, and it calls on the subgroup to reconcile the difference by matching their everyday walk with their Sunday actions. That is, Liberal and Nominal Catholics have already quit their church in terms of their personal everyday decisions, so they should also quit attending on Sundays.
Interesting, eh? So often in Christian circles we speak of matching our Sunday theology to our everyday actions. FFRF is challenging Catholics to match their everyday beliefs to their Sunday actions by no longer attending Catholic Church.
It’s sort of hard to oppose a call for greater sincerity.