How do you convince people to go to church? In the 1980s you'd hire Fallon McElligott Rice as your ad agency
In 1979, Reverend Dr. George H. Martin, an Episcopal pastor in Minneapolis felt it was time to try something new.
He thought, "You can use contemporary language to communicate about god."
Reverend Martin felt that it was time to start reaching more people through advertising. He wanted to invite more people to join the Episcopal Church.
So Reverend Martin asked for help from Tom McElligott. Tom was the son of an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Minnesota.
Tom happened to be a copywriter, so he agreed to help.
This was an unpaid project, but Tom said yes anyway. For two reasons:
1. Tom was a practicing Episcopalian.
2. He was one of Founders of Fallon McElligott Rice, a small new ad agency based in Minneapolis. And his agency needed exposure.
For over six years Reverend Martin worked with Tom and Nancy Rice of Fallon McElligott Rice to produce a series of provocative and bold print ads.
They spoke to the reader like God would speak to people in a '1980s way.
Fallon McElligott Rice surprisingly ended winning a bunch of advertising awards for the campaign. And this helped them win bigger clients. And by 1985, the agency's billings had grown to $80 million. And $140 million in 1989.
But the most interesting part? These ads were so successful that Reverend Martin ended turning them into a business, the Church Ad Project - offering award-winning print ads to over 5,000 churches from different Protestant denominations in America and throughout the World.
If you think about it, commercial and church advertising have more in common than you might think. As Reverend Martin said, "Evangelism is believing in your product and putting it out there. It's all about communicating. It has to be compelling, creative, persuasive."
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