United Methodists Hit Times Square with 3-Month Ad Campaign

For three months, the United Methodist Church will be airing two 15-second ads in New York’s Times Square every hour for 18 hours each day.

Throughout the months of July, August and September, the denomination will air spots on the 26-by-20-foot CBS “Super Screen” as part of a $20 million campaign geared toward 18- to 34-year-olds.

This month’s spots focus on literacy and environmental awareness, with one asking “What if church was a literacy program for homeless children? Would you come?” and the other asking “What if church considered ecology part of theology?”

The messages target young adults who are seeking spiritual fulfillment, including those with skeptical views of church.

“Times Square is an ideal fit for our Rethink Church campaign,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications (UMCom), which oversees the Rethink Church advertising. “You’ll find people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities in Times Square, and we want to tell each of them, ‘There’s a place for you in The United Methodist Church.’”

According to UMCom, the Rethink Church campaign is the next evolution to the denomination’s “Open hearts” campaign and highlights the many opportunities available within United Methodist churches to engage with the world.

Aside from the Times Square ads, UMC’s $20 million ad campaign will spend the next four years reaching out through television, radio, print, and in new media, including banner and keyword advertising on major secular Web sites.

On May 6, one day after the campaign’s official launch, more than 100 United Methodists took to the streets of New York City to perform random acts of kindness, including cab hailing, door opening, and more. The street teams also gave away iTune cards – good for one song download – that promoted www.10thousanddoors.org, a new Web site where visitors are able to interact, learn more about United Methodist Church, and search for involvement opportunities..

Each Times Square spot similarly includes an invitation to “Rethink Church at 10thousanddoors.org,” which launched on April 20

“If we are to Rethink Church, we must rethink what it means be a servant community,” said Hollon ahead of the campaign’s launch.

With about 8 million in the United States and Canada, the United Methodist Church is the second largest Protestant denomination in America. It is also the third largest Christian denomination in the world with some 12 million members worldwide.

Aside from overseeing the Rethink Church advertising, UMCom, the communications agency of the denomination, is providing Rethink Church training, media, and public relations support services to United Methodist congregations and conferences worldwide.