Business: May 2009 Archives
The Methodist Church has just launched a $20 million marketing campaign to rebuild denominational brand loyalty.
One element in the strategy: selling churches promotional t-shirts to give away to attendees.
And if that doesn't work, there's always the website--not so cleverly named "10,000 doors," which they may have intended to play off of the Church's traditional red doors but for many people would seem to imply that there are countless other ways to enter into heaven besides being a Methodist.
. . .
Twenty million dollars, huh?
Clearly I'm in the wrong business.
In my biz--I teach & write about charity and social responsible business, which is, you could say, a secular counterpart to my religion Ph.D.--it's taken as a given that a commerce should be ethical. However, what that means in practice isn't exactly clear.
Take, for instance, the ad above: an New Zealand billboard touting d.vice designer anal beads. The visual pun should be obvious--the church setting is a not so subtle evocation of the rosary and transcendent ecstasy. Christian critics condemn the ad because it offends their particular faith community and, for extra measure, because it ostensibly crosses an ethical line that makes it "inappropriate" for a company to display.
There are a host of fascinating issues bound up in this debate, from the law and social norms of cultural appropriation (can a commercial company exploit communal norms for profit?) to the legitimacy of giving religious groups authority to banish certain sexual behaviors out of the public sphere. Is it, as the d.vice spokesperson wryly notes, truly unethical to suggest that a religious person could find a harmonic union between sexual and spiritual pleasure? In the U.S., of course, such questions are particularly salient--an ad like the above would not likely find public perch in the States, which in itself says a lot about our own particular, if evolving, social values.
The location of the oft-cited-but-elusive ethical line is not something you'll find here--the BofG serves merely to catalog and, on occasion, to explain. What I can offer instead is this overview of ad complaints in New Zealand in 2008. #1 is another billboard, this time from Tui Beer, featuring the tag line, "Let's take a moment this Christmas to think about Christ . . . Yeah Right - Tui." Protests got it pulled, but not before the Salvation Army came to its defense!