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A Slimmer Sinner: Does Your Brand Match Your Message?

September 20, 2006 by

I think HP has gone off the deep end with their latest attempt to market the Photosmart line of digital cameras. They are promoting a “slimming” feature on the camera that can instantly take away the pounds! Forgive my frustration, but when companies engage customers in a context that is anything less than authentic, it goes against the loyalty potential for the brand. I don’t doubt this campaign may sell a few more cameras and generate some buzz (things HP is certainly aiming for), but for a long-term brand (something else I would imagine HP desires), dumb campaigns hurt more than they help.


History is littered with companies that have slipped in brand value because they’ve been inauthentic, irrelevant, or irreverent in their positioning. Consider nearly every American car company (the cheaper the cars the cheaper the cars), KFC (kitchen fresh chicken anyone?), or even Kodak (how’s that Advantix camera working out for you?).

How many churches are guilty of positioning themselves with the slimmer sinner feature? “Come this Sunday and your sin will melt away!” It may not be so obvious, but perhaps a second look at your campaigns may uncover some vulnerabilities.

Here’s quick exercise: Develop a list of ten words you want people to use to describe your church (the brand). You may come up with words like genuine, vibrant, vulnerable, seeking, etc. Use these ten words as a filter for every campaign or campaign component you create. Does everything line up? (link via 37 Signals)

Post By:

Brad Abare


Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it. He and his wife Jamaica live in Los Angeles with their daughter, Miró.
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7 Responses to “A Slimmer Sinner: Does Your Brand Match Your Message?”

  • Brandon Meek
    September 20, 2006

    I was very surpised when I saw this yesterday. It seemed so silly. A slimming feature is a major selling point for your cameras?????
    The idea of having some type of filter by itself is a great idea, and step, for churches. If a church can just get to that, they are way ahead.
    To me the challenge for a church, is what do you do with so many brands? Adult ministry, children, youth, college, divorced, singles, etc. – they all want their own brand. Lining them up together is a major task.


  • Scott
    September 20, 2006

    Think of the poor girl they are using in the before & after shot! Hopefully a local church will welcome her and work to rebuild her shattered self esteem.


  • Matt
    September 20, 2006

    This is a stupid and cheap looking distorted effect that just vertically compresses the center of the picture… and it will have unintended results for the casual user – if you have a group of people and apply this effect, the ones in the center would be “slimmed” but the ones toward the edges will look “fatter”!!


  • Jeremy Scheller
    September 21, 2006

    Ever since I started using photoshop back in the day, friends have asked me to airbrush their double chins, gently sqeeze the image to make them more slender and rubber stamp over their blemishes…HP isn’t doing anything new, their just fulfilling the desire that most people have when they look at photos of themselves.
    It’s a bandaid solution and it’s perfect for people. We’d rather spend an hour at the computer than an hour in the gym.
    It’s the church’s job to help people deal wih their lack of identity or misplaced esteem. In the meantime, HP needs to be in the creative inventor class and roll out the redcarpet for new ideas. (especially for all the thngs we really want but won’t admit).


  • Roby
    September 23, 2006

    OK maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see anything wrong with the slimming camera. Maybe I’m taking it to literal. But when you take a picture of someone (especially with shoulders squared to the camera) they will like heavier than in person.
    It seems this product simply reverses that.
    As for the cotton candy church services I agree, at times it seems like we compromise truth for love, instead of sharing truth and love.


  • Sara
    October 16, 2006

    Ok, I’m late to the game.
    First, people will buy into anything to make themselves look better. And we as an image-conscious society will play to that, make it, and sell it. We’re wired that way.
    The point of the article is not the vain attempt to shed those extra 10 pounds that cameras add (which can be easily eliminated or hidden with some strategic posturing as any photographer will share before a wedding), but if we are doing the same thing at church. I agree — Christianity has quickly become the 5-Step Plan To A Better Life Right Now. Better job, better marriage, better family, better than so-and-so who “needs Jesus.” So yes, we are guilty of peddling a softened version of The Good News.
    Christianity isn’t about perfection. It’s about acknowledging our flaws, our tendency to be repeat offenders, and relying on grace instead of our own wonderous efforts. That’s what cheapens the message and why so many see us as hypocrites as we pose pretty for the world’s lens. “Results Not Typical”


  • Gene Mason
    October 16, 2006

    Another example of image over authenticity.



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