In April 2009 an auto dealer’s Easter-inspired full-page newspaper ad compelled Touch Point City to ask the above question in a post.
Following are the results of a MicroSurvey that accompanied the post, along with some representative verbatims from the survey, and from a spirited discussion that ensued on LinkedIn.
Question 1: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “very inappropriate” and 5 being “very appropriate,” how appropriate do you feel it was for a business to run this ad?
- Very inappropriate 43%
- Inappropriate 21%
- Neutral 14%
- Appropriate 14%
- Very appropriate 7%
Question 2: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “very negative” and 5 being “very positive,” how does seeing and reading this ad make you feel toward the advertiser?
- Very negative 36%
- Somewhat negative 29%
- Neutral 14%
- Somewhat positive 14%
- Very positive 7%
Question 3: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “much less likely” and 5 being “much more likely,” would you be more or less likely to buy or service your car at an auto dealer that ran this ad?
- Much less likely 43%
- Somewhat less likely 21%
- Neutral 21%
- Somewhat more likely 7%
- Much more likely 7%
Question 4: Which of the following best describes your view on using religious themes and imagery in advertising and marketing?
- Can sometimes be appropriate and effective 64%
- Should be avoided always 29%
- Is absolutely reasonable, legitimate and often smart to do 7%
“I’m a Christian and I enjoy doing business with companies who share my views and passion for Jesus Christ. Christians are a demographic that many companies should and do target.”
“I think it is risky business. There will always be potential clients who connect to your message, however, you run the risk of alienating many more.”
“If it’s a faith-based business, then it would make sense and be appropriate. However, a secular business only alienates potential customers by putting their religion on the advertising page. It’s within their rights to do so. It’s just not a smart business move and should be discouraged, not because of the particular religion, but because it could drive down sales.”
“I find it extremely distasteful. period.”
“I was amazed and agape. This seems whacky and ill-considered in this day and age. Yet, I know Buddhist symbols are used a lot in marketing for spas and hotels and just about everything. Why don’t I find that offensive?”
“…I have worked in Pakistan & Mauritius, it’s common practice here. I have also seen this on the global level. …I think it’s the prerogative of the entrepreneur, after all they bear the risks.”
“…Religion and business do not mix — ever. At least not in the U.S. they don’t mix. When you start expressing specific religious beliefs geared in a marketing/advertising message, you turn off potential customers of another religion who may not follow that particular belief or attend that specific Church.”
“The balance between turn-on and turn-off is culturally dependent. I can’t see overt religious affiliations playing well in the UK, unless you had already identified a specific niche audience. But I see no reason against Hindu themed adverts in India if the people you want to influence will be engaged not offended.”
“My thought is if you could market to a majority of people who were paying attention to the message, why would you not want that? Every advertising and marketing campaign will have turnoffs but you consider it and do it calculating positives more than outweighs the negative.”