The largest publisher of Bible’s in America, Zondervan, is rolling out a new and more modern translation of the Bible, Today’s New International Version. But, according to a story in yesterday’s USA Today, although the language has been updated, apparently the message itself isn’t hip enough for the music industry magazine Rollilng Stone, which rejected an ad for the new publication.
Of course Rolling Stone is free to pick and choose the products and services it will and won’t allow in its advertising. The strange thing to note, though, is that it initially accepted the advertising buy back in July for a February ad. What did they think an ad from a Bible publisher would be about? New leather covers? Neon bookmarks? As someone who has designed ad strategies and media plans, learning that a major buy isn’t going to happen this late in the game isn’t just a minor irritation–it’s a huge blow to possible sales projections and revenue forecasts. For a major media oulet like Rolling Stone to pull an ad based on, what I feel, are pretty flimsly, unwritten guidelines seems incredibly unprofessional.
This is a problem that, I imagine, many churches will run into when planning and executing advertising. Media outlets that are skittish about placing religious advertising. And even though we may feel hurt or outraged–as I do about Rolling Stone‘s decision–we have to be prepared to be as “wise as serpents and gentle as doves” when it comes to our marketing. How can you do that? Here are some suggestions:
- When you make a media buy, be very specific with your ad rep about the fact that you are a religious institution and that your ad will be about your church.
- If possible, share an ad sample before you make the buy and get written approval for the design and ad copy before signing anything.
- Get a copy of the publication’s advertising guidelines and requirements before entering into a contract.
- Keep an eye on other ads in the publications in which you advertise. As you see ads that “push the envelope” in terms of propriety, use of colorful language or imagery, use of religious or political language, etc., keep a copy in a folder. That way, if you ever get called out on an ad you want to run, you have examples of pieces that were run in the past.
It’s always best for everyone involved in your ads to be happy–the client, the designers, the agency and the media outlet. But that’s not always possible. Protect yourself as much as you can by being smart and knowing what you’re getting into with your ad buys.