Who’s behind the “He Gets Us” campaign?
Can an ad campaign provoke renewed interest in Jesus among the unchurched?
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An effort to reintroduce Jesus to skeptics of Christianity has taken the form of a $100 million ad blitz on billboards, Instagram, and the Super Bowl broadcast. Organizers of the “He Gets Us” campaign call it “a growing opportunity to help people meet the radical Jesus of the Bible.” Who’s behind the effort, and what’s the aim?
What do the ads say? Examples of He Gets Us slogans include “Jesus was a refugee,” “Jesus fought systems of oppression,” and “Jesus was fed up with politics too.” One TV ad tells the story of a refugee family fleeing political violence, meant as an allegory of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fleeing King Herod’s wrath in the Bible. Another TV spot features black-and-white photos of an exhausted healthcare worker, a firefighter, and a sad-looking teenager. “Jesus suffered anxiety too,” read a message at the end. “He gets us.”
Do the TV ads promote a particular organization? They don’t point to a specific church or denomination, instead directing viewers to the He Gets Us website. There, visitors can chat with a campaign representative, join a local discussion group, or start the YouVersion weekly Bible reading plan.
The campaign promotes “Alpha groups.” What are those? These small discussion groups throughout the country encourage attendees to explore Christianity. Through the Alpha groups website, seekers can find a group near them, usually hosted at a local Protestant or Catholic church, for a “judgment-free space to ask hard questions and share your own opinion.”
Who organized the He Gets Us campaign, and why? It’s an initiative of the Servant Foundation, a nonprofit doing business as The Signatry. The Signatry, which runs a donor-advised fund, partnered with Haven, a marketing company, to release its first round of He Gets Us ads during March Madness last year. Other partner organizations include Christianity Today, YouVersion, and the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. Bill McKendry, Haven’s chief creative officer, told Christianity Today last year the media campaign was needed to challenge unbelievers’ tainted view of Christianity: “We need to raise their level of respect for Jesus, and then they’ll move.”
Who’s funding the effort? A small group of wealthy families have donated to the campaign but stayed mostly anonymous. One exception: Dave Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby. A companion website, hegetsuspartners.com, offers individual churches, companies, and denominations tools for promoting the He Gets Us messages.
What are the long-term plans? Organizers hope to spend $1 billion in promotional ads over three years. “Ultimately, we want people to know [Jesus’] teachings and how he lived while here on Earth,” the website states. “And this will be a starting point to understanding him and his message.”
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