Advertising the Bible with sex and money?

Thanks to my librarian son, Jeremy, he alerted me to an article in The Anthropological Quarterly (vol. 84, no 3, p. 705-736).  Matthew Engelke, in “The Semiotics of Relevance: Campaigning for the Bible in Greater Manchester” reports that the Bible Society of England and Wales wanted to run an advertising campaign stressing the relevance of the Bible “to the general public for understanding today’s world.”

One of the campaign ideas was to put scripture verses on billboards throughout the Greater Manchester area.  The billboards would not showcase the generic John 3:16 but something “unexpected.”

An early concept was to put Song of Solomon 4:5—Your two breasts are life fawns, twins of the gazelles…” on billboards with the tag line: “The Bible: Unexpected Saucy.” The Society hoped that the provocative ads would get the public thinking about the word of God.

While the verse would certainly grab the public’s attention, the Society deemed the use of the Song “too risky and imprudent.” Instead they settled for ads that had the theme of “Riddles of Life.” The ad campaign offered a £ 7,000 award to go to a charity of the winner’s choice.

The contest was won by a Christian. The Society conceded that their campaign was not a success. It seems that money did not motivate the public to recognize the Bible’s relevance. Maybe they should have used the Song :).


One comment on “Advertising the Bible with sex and money?

  1. Tom says:

    I guess I’m not sure why we should expect the world to find the Bible relevant “to the general public for understanding today’s world” by posting provocative verses outside of their context. Instead, we are exploiting Scripture and using it in a way for which it was never intended.

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