The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, November 04, 1997, Page 5, Image 5

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Souls market
needs better
ad campaign
STEVE CULLEN is a junior
advertising major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist.
Author s note: I refer to God as the archetyp
al figure of spiritual goodness. I, in no way, sup
port any organized religion. My intent is satire.
God needs a marketing director.
If there is a business that is fierce in com
petition, and has a strong need for solid market
positioning, it’s the business of saving souls. I
don’t know how God is doing in the rest of the
cosmos, but in the earth market, She has only
about a^5 percent share lead.
As an advertising major with some market
ing background, I feel I can do better than that
for God. With a strong strategic plan and out
of-this-world advertising, I could easily have
God dominate the human-souls marketplace.
I’ve sent in my resume, but like any governing
body, there’s a load of red tape. It has to go
through the interstellar commission, the purga
tory review board, Bill Gates and finally: God.
It’s a pretty simple concept that I propose, all
based on solid marketing principals. When exe
cuted, the results will be the “salvation” of human
ity and peace in our little niche of the universe.
Looking at the playing field, the Earth mar
ket is super high in demand for a “salvation”
type product. Not to mention a bunch of ser
vice-related goods: fairness, serenity, humani
ty, kindness, and while we’re at it, bliss.
Earth is an open market for consumable
goods as well, like food, clean air, good water,
trees, et cetera. Now looking over God’s busi
ness record, after the universe thing, cleaning
up this market should be no problem at all.
So why are we in shambles? Why is. it God
Inc. can’t get its goods into the marketplace?
The answers lie in the firm’s management,
product planning and communications.
Internal management holds the first flaws;
God has got to get everybody on the same
page. There’s about 600 branches of the firm,
each subject to so many mergers and acquisi
tions there’s no company loyalty anymore.
How can employees help business goals when
they’re killing fellow members?
How about that legal division? Someone
needs to put the smack down on all of these cult
pseudo-religious freaks. They’re spoiling com
pany image, going around damning everybody,
picking on the weak, and using the firm’s logo
haphazardly. Sue, tax and fine.
Now, the nitty gntty. First, the pncing issue
is too ambiguous. Consumers don’t know at
what price “salvation” comes. Do consumers
have to live in a temple devoid of outside cor
ruption? Or is it as simple as doing good for
Mother Earth and fellow dwellers? The price
must be attainable as not to out price con
sumers. When the firm knows the value of sal
vation, then the people who purchase it can
come to an agreement on its value.
Maybe it’s the deal of the millennium. I say
we make it paid for in life’s total goodness, to
self and world, with intent of total well-being
for self and others.
How about the distribution? Where do you
.7 . 1 .
get the product? At a place of worship, in your
home, in your heart? Do you have to visit
a certain place, be bom of a certain
ethnicity, or can you marry into
it? It’s got to be attainable
to all persons; so let’s
say we consolidate
the churches,
mosques am‘
temples and^
set fires
i n t
a 1
locations of
Just show up
with a desire to
obtain the product,
and the willingness to
pay the price. Hassle
free, low-pressure and fast
to respond.
Looking at personal selling,
I’ve got some work here. This
tool really has a bad rap. Our
own campus has seen the^
strife caused by the damn
ing fire-and-brimstone^
pseudo-preachers pollut-i
ing our late summer air.
So I would change
that. I use public rela
tions staffs. They are
informative, but not
overbearing; helpful
but not persuasive.
They may only provide
guidance in obtaining,.
paying for and using the product. They do not
As for the product, let’s
see. So what is it the con
sumer gets when using
God Inc. products?
branches will be more
unified by now, we can
really hone down the
benefits because peo
ple buy benefits, not
Right now the position of the product is too
fragmented and too specific. Consumers are
being sold heaven, Allah, nirvana, enlighten
ment, or even avoidance of hell, Sifron, or
whatever. God’s firm has lost focus on the ben
efits it sells. By selling features, the firm foigot
the benefit: enrichment - of self, planet, others.
God’s firm isn’t dominating because it has
been pushing and producing the wrong bene
fits. Religion has promoted subservience,
penance, hedonism, righteousness, but not
what people are willing to buy. Pushing fea
tures neglects the consumer. Consumers of
today won’t stand for the cookie-cutter
approach to “salvation goods.” It’s too person
al a purchase for that. In fact, I hope readers
can see how much of the marketing process
depends on the consumer.
I guess that’s why I think God needs a mar
keting director. Religions of the world have
lost sight of the consumer.
I hope God hires a marketing director to
help Her focus more tightly on the consumers
She should be benefiting. The great firms that
play a role in our market should realize the
consumer is being left behind, along with all
the benefits it should provide for us.
Religion needs to modernize, and it needs
to worry less about God and more about the
benefits for the consumer. I will never buy in to
God. I only buy peace and enrichment.
4:30 on a
afternoon. A
ryo.Ung man is
^sitting in a quiet,
riittle, used book
store, thumbing
rthrough a copy of a Tom
Stoppard play when a
woman in her mid-30s
walks into the shop. It is not
the woman so much as her shirt
that catches his eye.
It reads: “I Had Fallen, But I Got
Back Up! Thank You, Jesus!”
She catches the young man reading
her shirt, and she smiles at him benevo
lently. “Have you found Jesus, young
He pauses, rubbing his freshly clean
shaven chin. “That’s a good question, ma’am,”
he says, stiflingltack ail urge to ask if Jesus had
been lost. “May I ask what your shirt means
when it says, ‘I Had Fallen?”’
“Well, I went through a troublesome time
in my life about 8 years back. I was married tp
an abusive husband, I was on drugs, and my
life was generally in shambles. I found Jesus,
and He helped me fix all those things,” she tells
him, her eyes focused on him intently.
There is a long pause in the conversation
where the young man considers this. “Ma’am,
I don’t mean to sound like a member of the
Inquisition - but why?”
wnat ao you mean, why! the woman
responds, looking a little off-guard.
“You had fallen because of your own weak
ness, but why does God allow that?”
“Young man, are you an atheist?”
A sly grin crosses the young man’s face,
knowing there’s no running from the argument
now. “No, ma’am. I believe there is a God with
all my heart. He and I have an understanding.
I’m more of a soul-searcher, perhaps, or maybe
• just someone who’s lost his way.”
“You should come to one of our services. A
lot of people like yourself come into our church.”
He laughs softly, folding his arms over his
chest. “You won’t find me in a House of God,”
he says, his face weary beyond his years.
She looks at him with concern, her eytjs full of
sorrow for him. “May I ask why not, young man?”
The young man sighs quietly, his shoulders
shrugging slightly. “Because God isn’t in
them, I suppose.”
There is a sudden gasp of air, the woman’s
face taking on a look of utter shock. “How
could you say such a thing?”
“Because I believe in it,” the young man
says, leaning against the bookshelf. “More prob
lems in this world arise from organized religion
than from almost anything else. The Inquisition,
the Crusades, the constant warring in the Middle
East, persecution. I personally don’t see what
organized religion has to offer me.”
z>he considers her words carefully before
speaking them. “Such words might be consid
ered blasphemous by some. Organized religion
offers you a place to find guidance from those
more knowledgeable than you.”
A throaty chuckle escapes his lips. “More
knowledgeable than me. Isn’t that a little bit
assuming of you? How can anyone really know
anything about religion? Itfe all based on faith.
Despite all the texts that have been written on the
subject, how can I have faith in them ova* myself?”
She lowers her head sadly before looking
up at him. “Then you don’t believe in the
Everyone has
right to select
own religion
CLIFF HICKS is a junior news
editorial and English major and
a Daily Nebraskan columnist.
Resurrection of Our Savior, Jesus Christ?”
“Now don’t be putting words in my mouth. I
haven’t made up my mind on the carpenter’s son.”
“Haven’t made up your mind? Young man,
you are in a very precarious situation.”
“That’s what they tell me. Me personally, I
think God wants me to take my time in the
whole matter. My religion is between him and
me. See, there are a lot of paradoxes that make
me question the whole * Son-of-God ’ bit. God
says I will not prove myself to man, then brings
Jesus into play. I just don’t know. A lot of his
teachings seem very wise, but I haven’t decid
ed to myself whether or not I’m going to accept
the whole virgin birth and whatnot. Sooner or
later, it’ll all be clear to me, but there’s nothing
you or anyone else can do about it.”
She sighs to herself softly, having done all
she can for this spiritual wanderer. “I fear for
your soul, young man.”
“Don’t fear for it too long, ma’am. Either
I’m already irrevocably going to hell, or God
sees things my way. I’m more inclined to
believe the latter. I’d like to think that whoever
made me can forgive me for the faults they
already knew were there.”
“You don’t get along with anyone of reli
gion, do you?” she asks him.
“On the contrary, I respect everyone’s right
to go his own way. Of my two ex-girlfriends,
one was Catholic and the other was a Jehovah’s
Witness. The people I care about, the people I
love -1 don’t ask what religion they are. It even
tually comes up, but it doesn’t hold any value.
It’s as important as their height - it isn’t.”
The woman thinks about this for a moment.
“If you have friends, of all these different reli
gions, why don’t you decide which one is right
for you and join it?”
“Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and
the rest - they all have valid points, but I can’t
accept any single one of them as the religion
for me. That’s why I don’t think there should be
organized religion because everyone has his
own religion.”
“That’s a very interesting concept, young
man, but I m not sure I can accept it”
With a sudden jerk of his fingers, he zips
up his leather jacket a smirk on his lips. “I’m
not asking you to accept it. I wasn’t the one
who started this conversation and I’ve never
had the goal of converting you to my cause.
Your life, your religion, your business.”
He hands the script to the clerk, taking a fiver
out of his leather wallet with a sigh, giving it to
her. He turns back to the woman as the clerk
counts out die change. ‘To each his own, ma’am.
My God and I don’t have any problems with each
other, and that’s all drat really matters.”
If the woman says anything as he walks out
of the door, he can’t hear it He’s fairly Certain
she wasn’t listening anyway. As he slips into
the crowd, making his way back to his truck, he
thinks to himself “Too many religious discus
sions involve too much talking and not enough