In September last year the Jesus All About Life campaign carpet bombed the media with messages designed to generate buzz and donor leads. The campaign results have just been analysed, and Jeremy Bradshaw reports on the good word …
Jesus everywhere

If you live in NSW, you would have had to be living under a rock or in a coma not to have seen the Jesus All About Life campaign last September. It was everywhere.

Within walking distance of my home are three churches – all were adorned with the famous red, white and blue Jesus All About Life (JAAL) banners. And when some people showed their displeasure for the resurrected Christian spirit being peddled by the banners and stole them, the campaign received an added boost in PR mileage when the media reported on the thefts (was that karma for the crims or just the Lord getting his own back?).

Of course the centre piece of the campaign was the 30 day TV blitz which saw the JAAL ad played relentlessly during prime time. In Sydney it appeared on Channel 7, 9 and 10, and in regional areas it appeared on the Southern Cross, Prime and Win television networks.

The ad aired during the highest ratings times of news and current affairs, and in blockbuster shows like Packed to the Rafters.

Other marketing included bus shelters, two dedicated websites (jesusallaboutlife.com.au and allaboutlife.com.au), email campaigns, Facebook pages (attracted 27,000 Facebook friends), cinema advertising and oodles of PR (Rove and other commentators picked up on the campaign and featured segments about it).

So what was it all about?

Jesus All About Life was instigated by Bible Society NSW, and Mark Lees, head of marketing at Bible Society, said the campaign had several main objectives.

“This was all about creating the brand ‘Jesus All About Life’, which was designed to get both Christians and non-Christians talking about Jesus and faith. Building a pool of donor leads was another important goal, and I was amazed by the response we had,” said Lees.

Incredibly, all 15 Christian denominations collaborated and got behind the campaign, probably a first for Australia and for the world. In the end more than 1,500 churches across NSW participated, and the JAAL signage at churches proved to be a unifying glue.

While generating buzz and conversations around faith was a key goal, getting people to take action was another, and thousands logged onto the campaign websites to order and download everything from scriptures to bumper stickers to book marks and ebooks and a whole host of other resources.

Message penetration

Independent evaluation of the media campaign by McCrindle Research found a high level of cut through. Just under 70% of people in the research group said they had seen the campaign, and 38% mentioned it spontaneously. So it seems the broad reach of TV was successful in distributing the campaign.

Furthermore, when asked what the key message of the TV ad was, just over half of all people said that ‘Jesus’ was the main focus. The majority of people were also able to identify the message of the ad as being “Jesus has the answers”.

Despite the success of getting the message out, there was some confusion about who was the main force behind the campaign. Almost 45% of people had ‘no idea’ who was running it, almost 17% thought Hillsong was the organiser, and only 6% recognised it as a Bible Society NSW initiative.

“I’m not too worried by this result,” said Lees. “The purpose of the campaign in the non-church market place was to build the JAAL brand, not Bible Society, and clearly the JAAL brand has gained strong awareness. Within the 15 denominations, the awareness of Bible Society as the key driver behind the campaign was a very high 87%.”

“I was surprised by all the additional PR value we got out of the campaign. The mainstream media really picked up on it and reported very strongly on it,” said Lees.

Another indicator of the success of the campaign was that 16% of churches experienced an increase in church attendance during the campaign.

Leads for new donors

The marketing campaign helped to drive almost 150,000 people to the JAAL websites. Many of these people downloaded Christian resources, ordered and paid for others, and interacted with the campaign in other ways such as uploading photos of themselves (1,500 people did this!) and messages of thanks to Jesus.

These participants are now sitting ready for trial conversion to donor, but Lees is wary of coming on too strong too early. “We’re starting to test a number of approaches with these people, but we are taking things slowly. We don’t want to scare them off,” he said.

This pool of warm leads will be sent email appeals, e-newsletters, and direct mail appeals among other communications.

Funding the campaign

For those of you wondering what a media campaign like this costs and how you can afford it, look no further than your donors. The media spend for JAAL was paid for by supporters, some major, and many smaller ones.

And there was one great serendipitous aspect of this campaign – its timing. Demand for TV advertising was down steeply because of the GFC, and Bible Society was able to negotiate some very cheap rates. And that, as they say, was manna from heaven!

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