Pastor's Blog

In my freshman year the college I attended brought in a new president.  And with the new president came a repackaging of the school’s image.  The repackaging required new pamphlets and booklets with new and updated glossy photos and new catch phrases to present a fresh, new image of the college.

In chapel one morning the new president announced that “all the BEAUTIFUL people” selected to be featured in the new literature needed to go to such-and-such a room after chapel.

“All the BEAUTIFUL people.” 

Those words set off an emotional firestorm among the angry young men on campus, and I was one of them.

We certainly wouldn’t want anyone to think that ordinary average-looking people attended our college, now, would we?  Only ‘the beautiful people’.  All the rest of us ugly people need to be kept from public view.  We’re all good enough to pay tuition at the college and you’re happy enough to take our money.  But we fall short of the glorious image you wish to present.

I apologize for my face.

I had never thought much about marketing up to that point in my life.  But that episode generated a hostile awareness of marketing.  Marketing is not about presenting what is real.  It’s about presenting only the good things you want people to see and concealing the things you don’t want them to see.

Marketing isn’t about representing your product.  It’s about misrepresenting it.
Marketing is about telling people what they want to hear, and only what you want them to hear. 
Marketing, in short, is the art of studied professional lying.

If this had been an isolated episode, I might have dismissed it.  But as my life went on my suspicions about marketing were repeatedly confirmed.  

If marketing involves this kind of misrepresentation, how – in a society where everything is ‘marketed’ and where people are accustomed to and expect ‘marketing’ – does one ‘market’ a ministry, a church, the Christian faith?

Merely asking the question almost turns my stomach – but the topic is unavoidable.

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