A Christian group will spend nearly A$30 million on ads promoting Jesus at Sunday’s Super Bowl — the NFL final which is the biggest annual sporting event in the US
It’s part of the He Gets Us campaign to promote Jesus and Christianity across the country.
Organisers plan to invest A$1.5 billion on the project over three years .. and that’s just the first phase.
For the past 10 months, the Jesus ads have shown up on billboards, YouTube channels and television screens — most recently during NFL playoff games.
Religion News Service (RNS) reports the campaign promotes the idea that Jesus understands contemporary issues from a grassroots perspective.
The campaign is a project of the Servant Foundation, a Kansas nonprofit that does business as The Signatry, but the donors backing the campaign are mostly anonymous.
They’re described as “like-minded Christian families who desire to see the Jesus of the Bible represented in today’s culture with the same relevance and impact He had 2000 years ago.”
Recently David Green, the billionaire co-founder of Hobby Lobby, confirmed that his family was helping fund the ads.
Campaign organisers have signed up 20,000 churches to provide volunteers to follow up with anyone who sees the ads and asks for more information, but those churches are not funding the campaign.
Marketing expert Lora Harding says the Super Bowl offers a huge and engaged audience.
She worked on the Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors campaign for the United Methodist Church.
Associate Professor Harding said that the anonymity of the group behind the ads plays to the group’s advantage.
She notes it would be easy for viewers to dismiss an ad coming from a faith-based organisation or religious group but the He Gets Us ads wait until the end to mention Jesus and don’t point to any specific church or denomination.
“That makes it even more powerful, and hits the message home in a really compelling way,” she said. “I think it does make Jesus more relevant to today’s audiences,” she told RNS.
Some are more sceptical.
Author and activist Jennifer Greenberg said: “Connecting emotionally with Jesus is great. But that won’t save your soul.”
Another author and missiologist Michael Cooper is a fan of the ads, saying they powerfully communicate the human side of Jesus, but leave out his divinity.
Others ask whether such a large amount of money would be better spent on Christian ministries.