Sometimes something comes across my desk that I must post about.
This morning I got the following in my email:
Sometimes something comes across my desk that I simply must post about.
Who knew that a mainstream woman’s magazine like Woman’s Day had such religious undertones? Sure, the magazine exudes family values but not to the extent of many others. Ladies Home Journal, for example, has a monthly column by Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church.
The so-called “Seven Sisters” magazines — Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook, Woman’s Day (McCalls folded in 2002)–have traditional women’s roles and traditional gendered vaules attached. But, are they all religiously inclined?
Excuse me for not having written of late. Been busy working on the new book…More on that later.
Here’s a story you might have missed:
Kirstie Alley was the (as it turns out) short-term spokesperson for Jenny Craig. Unlike Valerie Bertinelli who continues to hawk for the weight-loss company, Kirsty Allen couldn’t keep the weight off.
Willing to try yet again, Ms. Alley created her own line of weight loss products and developed a reality show–Kirstie Alley’s Big Life–on A&E to launch them. (The show still appears on A&E’s web site, but it is not currently on their program schedule.)
When I tell you that this show is beyond bad (one critic’s headline was something along the lines of “Big Life has the makings of a Big Flop”), you know that’s saying something because I’ll watch a lot of programming others consider fairly awful. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t make it through more than one episode.
What does this have to do with religion and marketing? According to an article on Gawker, the line of diet products being sold have ties to the preachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. (Alley is well known as a Scientologist.) Anonymous, a group that is famous for investigating Scientology, claims that there are ties to the church itself, though that has not been verified.
Either way, it would behoove those who are concerned about their weight and fans of Kirstie Alley to not go blindly into purchasing this product–one that has a steep price tag of $139/month…wonder how that compares with Jenny Craig?
There was a wonderful story in the NY Times yesterday about one man’s response to the overcommercialization of yoga.
In a world where who your yoga teacher is and whether you are wearing Lululemon has become more important than your connection to Spirit, Greg Gumucio has not bought into the hype. Instead he has created an anti-celebrity, anti-fashionista yoga in his studios called Yoga to the People. Students don’t know who their teacher will be when they take a class; they pay what they can afford to pay and as their website states: “There will be no correct clothes, There will be no proper payment, There will be no right answers … No ego no script no pedestals.”
To those who would suggest that it is impossible to balance faith and commerce, I would suggest taking a lesson from Mr. Gumucio. He has 3 studios in New York, 2 in California, has plans to expand into Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Chelsea as well as possible long-term expansion into Austin, Chicago and Los Angeles.
In the Kabbalah Centre’s neverending quest to spread the word, they have now launched Kabbalah U online. They say they are doing this because it is the most effective means to disseminate this information, which is of course try. However, if the goal was to make the information available, they would provide it all for free.
This, of course, is not the case…except for the next 5 days. Until April 30, you can use Kabbalah U for free.
To login, visit www.ukabbalah.com and enter the following:
Here you will find “hundreds of hours of classes from teachers all over the world, available for downloading & watching as much as you desire, learning new lessons each time you watch.”
Better hurry! After Friday, you have to pay $42/month!
I’ve never shopped at Forever 21 (truly, I’m not the target audience as you can see from the picture below), but I didn’t realize just how true that was until recently.
Students of mine are doing research on the value-priced clothing store Forever 21 and they told me something that was fairly shocking. On the bottom of all Forever 21 bags, it says “John 3:16″. I couldn’t believe it so I went to the store myself and asked for a bag. There is was!
I went online and evidently this has been going on for about 5 years (at least in the blogosphere). I also went to Forever 21’s website and while they do not promote their evangelicalism they do have a line of clothing for “extended sized” women called Faith 21.
I don’t know if this is suggesting that you need more faith when you are larger or if you need faith to help lose weight (something written about extensively here). In either case, it seems like an odd name for a brand extension.
I can only wonder how many Jews or atheists or Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims in NYC know about this evangelical connection when walk through the store on 14th Street….and what other “secular” retailers have an evangelical mission that we don’t know about.
I was at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference this weekend and Premal Shah, President of Kiva was one of the key note speakers.
For those of you who don’t know, Kiva is a microfinancing site that allows individuals to make loans (as small as $25) to people in (mostly) developing countries. (A current controversy the company is facing is their decision to support American workers as well as those in the so-called Third World.)
To increase the fun factor on the site, Kiva came up with the idea of creating teams so that groups of people could donate money and track their giving against other groups. The two teams that lead the pack are the “Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious” and the “Kiva Christians.” However, aethists have given close to $1.7 million while the Christians are just under one million dollars.
I find this very interesting, though I’m not sure exactly what it means. It could be that atheists are more internet savvy than their Christian brethren. It could mean that Christians are giving to their churches rather than Kiva. We don’t know. However, it does beg the question: since atheists don’t give to a religious institution (which is a substantial part of the donated money in the United States) where do atheists tend to donate…besides Kiva, of course?
I noted a while back a key element of Dog: The Bounty Hunter is that the posse circles up to pray before they go out to round up the bad guy. This is particularly interesting because we rarely see this sort of “lived religion” on television. Perhaps on an odd episode of Friday Night Lights you’d see the football team say a prayer before a big game, but that’s the exception not the rule and that’s a scripted program not a reality series.
More recently, we are seeing prayer within the context of another reality series. That series is Ruby, a show in which a morbidly obese woman brings a team of experts together to help her overcome her issues with weight and food.
Ruby is from Savannah, Georgia. She is an obviously religious woman as we see her attend church and it is evident that she is a regular attendee. When Ruby goes through a particularly difficult time, she turns to her church to help her find the strength that she needs to recommit herself to her goal of getting in shape. As I’ve written about elsewhere here, Ruby is not alone in turning to faith for assistance in this area. Where Ruby is different, however, is that faith is not integral to the diet as it is to her life. It will be interesting to see how much faith is an element in the show when it starts its new season on February 14th.
In the meantime, I’m curious if others have notice this as a trend. Are people turning to God on other reality series?
Today Samuel Goldwyn is releasing To Save a Life, a Christian film about a teen coping with another teen’s suicide.
The filmmakers claim they produced the film because they realized that movies have the most influence on teens today. In addition, they are using new media to get teens to spread the word –dare we say evangelize?–about the film. To that end their website is very impressive. The number of tools they use is far to extensive to enumerate here so I suggest you check it out for yourself.
This campaign is a great example of the blending of sacred and secular; corporate and Christian. In fact, while we won’t know for a while whether it is successful, on its face it is simply a very good marketing teen-targeted campaign.
I find myself recently being bombarded with emails asking me to buy the latest book from Joel Osteen or the attend the latest weekend seminar from Saddleback. I can only assume that these institutions are feeling the effects of the recession just like everyone else.
What is particularly interesting, however, is the increase in marketing sophistication attached to these promotional missives. Most interesting is the promotion for Joel Osteen’s new book which you can see on his website. While one always has the option to purchase the book outright, consumers are also being offered the opportunity to purchase a limited edition of the book which is signed and number.
Since when have mass produced commodities been numbered like limited edition lithographs? Oh sure, we can get into a discussion about mass produced art, but we’re talking about books that are going to be produced in the millions. What’s the value here? Being the first to get a copy? Having it signed? Is there appreciative re-sale value?
In terms of the advertising itself, there’s the feel of a PBS pledge drive in the language. “Donate this amount you and you get the signed edition of the book and the DVD.” It leads the consumer to feel like s/he’s giving something away and not simply buying a book.
It’s smart marketing, for sure. Is it smart religion? Can we even call it religion? Well, that’s for another post.
Thought this piece from Rachel Maddow might be of interest. It is about how Conservatives are re-writing the Bible. We assume that’s because they are trying to improve the product for the target audience. Enoy!