What can we learn from… November 2018

What can we learn from… November 2018

In ChurchTrain’s complete guide to starting out with social media, we think about how helpful it can be to ‘look around’! 

We can learn so much from other organisations’ marketing efforts, ‘holding on to what is good’, to see how we can improve our own church communications.

We’re going to briefly consider three recent marketing campaigns, to see what we can learn from Audi, Three and Charlotte Chapel!


What can we learn from…

Audi – Electric has gone Audi

This is a good one!


Muhammad Ali did not invent the knockout punch,

Elvis did not invent rock and roll,

Salvador Dali did not invent painting…


And we did not invent the electric car.


Wow, that’s good marketing.

They could have ended the advert right there, and honestly, I think it might still have been the most clever advert of the year. And I’m not even a massive Audi fan!

What Audi have done here is to sell their expertise without saying it – it’s very subversive. They could have stated ‘Elvis was the best rock and roll singer of all time and we make the best electric cars’, but this wouldn’t have been anywhere near as effective.

Have a watch:



Instead, Audi let you, the audience member, fill in the gaps. You’ve heard of Muhammad Ali 🥊 Elvis 🕺🏼and Salvador Dali 🎨 so Audi don’t have to persuade you that these people are legends, at the top of their respective fields. Instead, they point out that these experts were not necessarily the first to invent the things for which they achieved fame. But it obviously doesn’t matter, because they pioneered them, and became the best.

And with the line ‘and we did not invent the electric car’, Audi are very clearly stating that they have done the same. They’re telling you that even though their electric cars may not have been the first on the market, you can be sure that they’re the best.

The advert culminates in the tagline:

Electric has gone Audi

Even the tagline is a great campaign all by itself!

The audience is conditioned to expect the opposite: something along the lines of ‘Audi has gone electric’. Instead, Audi position themselves as game changers – pioneering to the extent that they have reinvented and redefined the electric car.

Of course, all of this could be complete baloney – their electric car could be terrible. But with a campaign this good, I’m persuaded!

What can churches learn from Audi? Sometimes a subtle approach is better in our communications and church publicity.

Instead of stating a message in black and white, it can be far more effective to present our ideas in ways which require the audience to make the logical connections.  Jesus’ message changes lives, so we need to consider how we can show the church as a game-changing force!


What can we learn from…

Three – Phones are good

Following on from the idea of using well-established messages to highlight your own expertise, let’s look at Three, and their #PhonesAreGood campaign.



In case you didn’t know, Three are a mobile service provider – so they’re in the business of selling phones. Unfortunately for them, phones are getting a lot of ‘stick’ these days!

And let’s face it, it’s not without reason; research shows we’re all pretty addicted! Even the tech companies are admitting this and starting to include tools with the mobile operating systems that help you to monitor your own phone usage.

So with all of this negativity, what do Three do? They tackle it head on! Campaign explains:


Against a media narrative that insists phones are damaging society and wrecking mental health, the campaign argues for their benefits and imagines historical scenarios that would have been improved by smartphones.

What if the Titanic’s captain could have avoided disaster by checking the icy forecast on his phone, or what if the apple never tempted Eve because she was too busy scrolling through Instagram?


Per The Drum, Three’s campaign is apparently based on the company’s underlying belief that phones are good. Whether or not you agree, clearly the advert is very well thought-out.

Three’s campaign works by changing the conversation. Instead of directly arguing against the criticism and considering ‘are phones good for us’, they tackle the question:


Wait. Life was better without phones? Really?


As well as adapting the conversation to suit their message, Three challenge the topical negativity through comedy – specifically through humour that their UK audience is likely to enjoy. And let’s not neglect to mention the tone and the pace of the ads – these are clearly aimed at a younger generation. We should never underestimate the importance of knowing our audience and presenting our message in ways that they can relate to.

Moses Three Campaign ChurchTrain

Similar to Audi, Three put a new spin on stories that are deeply rooted in our society, but rather than promoting their own expertise as Audi have, they aim to remove the doubts about smartphones by suggesting they could have improved historic events and, by extension, their customers’ own situations.

The key lessons to learn here for church communications? We need to identify stories which our audience can relate to, and to challenge them to think about these stories in new ways.

Whilst Biblical literacy in the UK may not be what it once was, we’re still fortunate to live in a society where many Bible stories are still known – even if it’s just as a memory of things we were taught back at school!

So we need to be thinking about how we can shed new light, so that this awareness turns to curiosity and ultimately, by the Spirit’s work, to faith!

Bonus Point

In a real ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ moment, there’s a quick ‘typo’ at the end of the full advert, just after the Moses clip. I couldn’t quite believe that I spotted it, but it’s there!

Phones are God three advert churchtrain

Think that’s accidental? Not a chance!


What can we learn from…

Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh – Real Life Redemption


Church Publicity Design Red Dead Redemption Poster Edinburgh Charlotte Chapel


Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh are our last example for now. Specifically, a recent poster they produced, linking in with a recently released game: advertising for which happened to occupy a huge billboard opposite their church.



This has produced quite a range of reactions! Per Gamereactor, it’s obviously quite funny to some onlookers!


Everyone is talking about Red Dead Redemption 2 at the moment, and as is often the case with Rockstar projects, the game has already been absorbed into popular culture and is being talked about by mainstream media and interested parties outside the gaming sphere. That, as per usual, always leads to hilarity….If anything, you can’t say the people behind it haven’t been thorough.


Clearly, this isn’t the first time a church has used elements of pop-culture to help promote Christian themes – we’ve even considered it before on ChurchTrain with Pokémon Go.


Of course, we need to apply some wisdom here.

In a recent tweet, @geekdadgamer questions how helpful messages like this are – suggesting that they cause ‘colonisation’. I personally wouldn’t see this as a black and white issue, but there is potential to suggest a disconnect between online life and ‘real life’, as if gaming and internet browsing aren’t parts of real life. These are themes we thought about in the recent book review of ‘What Would Jesus Post’.

We need to be careful not to patronise our audience. Still, whatever your view, it’s hard to be too critical of Charlotte Chapel. The church is clearly seeking to spread the gospel and to do so in a creative, attention-grabbing way. Not only this: seemingly the church’s message has gone viral, even making national news!

The challenge is to share our message in ways which resonate with people – providing a bridge between God’s message and recognisable aspects of culture, without patronising or appearing to jump on a bandwagon.

This is a hard balance to achieve (and there will always be critics from inside and outside the church!) but it is one that is key to reaching people with our church publicity!

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