Sunday, December 30, 2007

Jesus Camp - Total Immersion Marketing

The Movie Jesus Camp has caused some controversy. It displays the indoctrination of young children into Evangelical Christianity. Without comment on anyone's religion or the merits of this form of "education" I would like to take a look a the marketing aspects of the approach.

The most important part of mass manipulation is in establishing "community". Community is a sense of belonging to a group and can be established through shared experiences and memories, which become the community's culture.

Children are far more capable of suspending their disbelief and accepting what's been told to them. In any movement, the majority of participants are not going to become zealots, but a small number will, and the majority will likely at least remain sympathetic to the cause.

Total indoctrination at a young age, continuing through adulthood serves a variety of purposes. It creates a community. A mass of people who can be manipulated, directed or influenced by community leaders preserving and creating the culture.
It developes leaders. A small percentage of youngsters and newbies will get the "fire in their belly" and retain their enthusiasm into adulthood, either because they see the potential of the organization, or because they really are "true believers".

This is your primary sales force. These individuals will go out and sell and grow the organization and advance its agenda. Most of the remaining individuals will go along with or at least not interfere with, the community's agenda (as set by its leadership). They are also consumers, benefactors, fund raisers and in some cases, field workers. Evangelicals, for example, were on to "crowdsourcing" way before the term was coined for modern marketing execs.

There is a fine line however. If your organization crosses into behavior that it's greater society will not tolerate, the organization can collapse. You want to connect your membership in a manner that is unique, while not being offensive or threatening to non-members. If you really must expand your influence beyond your potential membership in an organization, start a second organization, or a third.

Regardless of your feelings toward religion, it's obvious that churches and religions are a great source of case-study when it comes to marketing, especially long term marketing.

Here's the movie: It's a long one

1 comment:

Timothy Wenk said...

Ideally, religions engage in 'educational marketing.' That's a GREAT way to market! Also, when I try to illustrate the benefits of 'long copy' to people, I say, "The more that's 'at stake,' the longer the copy has to be." As an example, I use The Bible. Some people don't like to hear that, but the Bible is really a 'long copy' sales letter! What could be more 'at stake' than one's very soul?