Mr. Crankypants was pleased to learn that the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has been standing up for religious liberal values in the aftermath of the shootings during a worship service at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church back in July. It is the Right Thing To Do.

But Mr. Crankypants wishes to point out that taking out a full-page newspaper ad in the New York Times on Sunday, August 10, may not be the most effective way of standing up for religious liberal values. For example, here’s what marketing guru Seth Godin has to say about full-page newspaper ads, taken from a short essay titled “Why The Wall Street Journal annoys me so much,” from his book Purple Cow:–

“The Journal is the poster child for marketing old-think. Every day, more than a million dollars’ worth of full-age ads run in this paper — testimony to traditional marketers’ belief that the old ways are still valid.

“A full-age ad in the Journal costs more than a house in Buffalo, New York [Mr. Crankypants notes that the August 10 full-page ad cost the UUA $130,000]. Page after page of dull gray ads…. If you took 90% of these ads, and switched the logos around, no one could tell…. One morning, with time to kill at a fine hotel, I interrupted a few people who were reading the Journal over breakfast. I waited until they had finished the first section, and then I asked them if they could name just two of the companies that had run full-page ads. Not one person could….

“Finally, I asked them the million-dollar question (literally). Had they ever requested more information about a product because they’d seen a full-page ad in the Journal?

“You can probably guess the answer.”

Thank you for that insight, Seth.

OK, now here’s a quiz — and no cheating (which includes no texting your friends to ask them for the right answer):

(a) Did you read the ad in the New York Slime? Actually, did you even see the ad, let alone read it?
(b) If you do read dead-tree news publications, do you ever read the ads?
(c) If you had $130,000 to spend on anything relating to publicity around the shootings at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, how would you spend that money?

Mr. Crankypants awaits the appearance of your answers to this quiz in the comments section below….

13 thoughts on “Quiz

  1. will shetterly

    Y’know, the UUA could buy Katrina homes for me and someone else for less than that, and get more PR value out of it. Yes, I am willing to accept a home to promote a religion I respect. I’m just a nice guy that way.

    But, yes: two homes! And instead, they’re giving money to the Times? Feh.

  2. will shetterly

    P.P.S. The UUA could put ads on the sides of the homes! We wouldn’t care! We would go on TV and say, “Thank you, liberal religion!” I’ll bet the Times ad agent wouldn’t.

  3. Bill Baar

    I thought it was old think. I thought the ad in Time was old think.

    My other concern was copy cats. When we’ve had school shootings we’ve had copy cat threats the following weeks.

    The uuworld article column by the women who knew this fellow raised some reflections for me about liberalism too. This guy had a cocaine induced paranoia from a long history of substance abuse.

    Somewhere back on uu blogs someone was posting nice thoughts on the theology of Timothy Leary… an era I remember well and always tragic recollections of people dying young.

    I grew up in a Liberal Church and watched all the kids turn on what we saw as a stogy Liberalism in the name of revolution with a heavy serving of drugs and what a mess we made of things.

  4. Nathan

    I don’t know if the ad is old think or not. I do know that Duane Kraeger has derived some comfort to see his wife’s memory honored in that way. A copy of the ad is taped to the front door of our church.

  5. will shetterly

    Nathan, I’m glad that the UUA did something to acknowledge it, and I’m glad that Duane Kraeger gets some comfort from the fact that they did. What happened was horrible. I entirely agree that the UUA needed to acknowledge it.

    But $130,000 in the New York Times was not the best way. The UU World article mentions the number of hits that the web site got–were any of those driven by the Times’ ad? I suspect they all came from people who read about what that happened and wanted to learn more about Unitarian Universalism.

    There are other things the UUA could’ve done besides buying homes for the homeless, of course. They could’ve asked your church members to vote on a cause that the money could’ve been donated to. Instead, it was donated to the New York Times.

  6. Nathan

    I don’t know what the cost effectiveness of the ad might be. But it’s done; and I think we should move on to other, more productive, things now.

    By the way, I understand that the UUA plans to run that ad in the Knoxville News-Sentinel. How do you feel about having the ad there? I don’t know how much it will cost, but I imagine it will be closer to $10,000 than $130,000.

    My feeling is that, finally, there is an opportunity here to generate some good feelings about our religious point of view. Being a UU in the Bible Belt is challenging under the best of circumstances.

  7. Mr. Crankypants

    Nathan @ 9 — Even Mr. Crankypants thinks ads in the Knoxville newspaper are a Very Good Thing Indeed. For all the reasons you give, and because it’s The Right Thing To Do.

  8. will shetterly

    Seconding Mr. Crankypants. Something that tells people there that this will be remembered is good.

    But as for the Times ad, it’s right to say a mistake was made, especially because it was made with the best intention. Otherwise, the same mistake will be made again. The New York Times has enough of the UUA’s money. There are people who need it more. While I joked about accepting an Airstream, I seriously think the UUA would get better publicity from giving homes to the homeless than from giving money to mainstream newspapers.

  9. Dan

    will @ 11 — You say: “Otherwise, the same mistake will be made again.” And that was my point in having Mr. Crankypants write this post. Horrible things do happen in UU churches (in any church) — e.g., a man was shot and killed by police in a Brattleboro, Vt., UU church in December, 2001. And less horrible but bad things happen in UU churches all the time. And it is wise for church leaders to think about how they will respond. P. T. Barnum, who was a Universalist, said there’s no such thing as bad publicity — but assuming that is so, there are many ways to deal with publicity, and it’s not a bad idea to spend some time thinking about this issue beforehand. There’s a strong argument to be made for the UUA printing that ad in the Times, and there’s a strong argument to be made for a simple press conference and then a dignified silence, and there’s lots of other strong arguments to be made. There is no right answer, but any one of us might have to make this kind of decision some day….

  10. dwight

    a) no
    b) no
    c) 130k? How about a memorial to the victims, financial aid to their families, scholarships for the poor kids who had to witness the horrible event, anything helpful, human and practical. But i sincerely hate it when a tragedy such as this is exploited for thinly veiled “PR” purposes. it’s just plain tacky.

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