The UK's biggest church Christmas advertising campaign is underway with giant posters, bus shelter ads and innovative radio advertising aimed at the churchâ€™s missing younger generation.
The poster re-casts the nativity scene with trendy twenty-somethings, designer fashions and luxury gifts. In the poster the shepherds are represented by a cycle courier and plasterer. The Wise men are shown as three successful entrepreneurs and their gifts are iconic 'treasures' of modern culture: a Swarovski crystal perfume bottle, a Faberge egg and a replica Damian Hirst skull. All are 'sharply dressed'. But the traditional nativity arrangement is unchanged, with Jesus as its clear focus. And the message is 'However you dress it up.... Christmas Starts with Christ'.
The image, which also features clothing from shops including Topman, Zara and Donna Karan (see full list of items below), was photographed by Max Oppenheim, a prominent London based photographer who has shot campaigns for clients including Paul Smith, Max Mara and Virgin.
The church-backed ad campaign will use hundreds of posters, radio ads and digital media to reach millions this Christmas.
Guildford diocese leads the way
Eagle 96.4, Radio Jackie and Heart Surrey â€“ the three popular local radio stations covering Guildford diocese â€“ will broadcast the two fashion-based ads in the week leading up to Christmas. This is a first for churches in the UK - no other local campaign has attempted to influence such a large audience. There will also be activity on national radio stations including Kiss, Smash Hits Radio, Premier and Heat. For the first time digital posters in shopping malls, pubs and clubs will also be used.
Commenting on the campaign, the Bishop of Dorking, the Rt Revd Ian Brackley, said: "Our churches are blazing a trail by targeting 20s-40s, the age group and demographic least reached by traditional forms of church. This is a powerful initiative, a new approach for a new generation, going where non-churchgoers are." (see note below about accessing the Fashion show Radio ads.).
The campaign has already had the support of key church leaders, including the Archbishop of York, and partners such as Premier Christian Media and The Jerusalem Trust.
Mike Elms, from ChurchAds.net, said: "We have a very simple but dramatic idea by showing the meeting of Christianity and high street consumerism, with Christ in the middle. With recent events in the UK and with millions of people heading for shopping centres in the final few days before Christmas, there will be no better time to remind people that, behind all the consumerism - Christmas Starts with Christ."
Find out details of your nearest Christmas church services at www.christmasnearyou.com