This video is actually about how religion is marketed as a product and these megachurches equal big business. This video discusses Joel Osteen and T.D.Jakes as frauds who market Jesus for their monetial benefit. This made me think about hwo there are so many distractions now a days in religion with products, opportunities and money blurring the path to simply learn about God. You want to hear the word but you don’t want to have to be persuaded by the worldly objects that man intersects between you and your goal.
In Chapter 6, Oprah and Joel Osteen are discussed as televangelists. Both Oprah and Joel go by a first name basis, preach a lighter version of the gospel called prosperity teaching, and own these mega entities that allow thousands to follow their words. Oprah and Joel both offer products such as books, have taped “sermons, and give you their perspective on how to become just like them. I am actually doing my project on Oprah and her brand of spirituality, so to read about how she operates from a televangelists prospective is interesting. In my opinion both use a more secular teaching, which is considered sacred. The more you read the Chapter you see how they are adapting to these New Age Spiritualists with the option of a lighter teaching. They both tap into this new audience, who want a combination of religion and common sense, which is making both of them more money than they ever dreamed. People no longer want to belong to a religious institution or hold that loyalty the same anymore. They want to be able to worship in their own way and still have God without having an organized religion. Oprah is more of the women’s empowerment movement with little inserts of God. Joel Osteen is actually the televangelist who owns the mega church, and preaches God with little inserts of common thinking. In my opinion I believe nothing can take the place of actually attending service, and there is no substitution of being part of organized religion. The opportunity to meet new people, and worship with others who are like is an incredible experience that no taping or internet sermon can offer.
In the concluding chapter of Brands of Faith, Mara Einstein illustrates the “one segment of the religious market that is in the mature stage of its product life cycle,” New Age. In it’s history and decline, we see that while examples of New Age were all very heavily marketed, ultimately it was not a failure in marketing but a failure of the product itself that led to its demise. In light of this, we can see that while marketing of religion may have its downfalls, that is not all there is. Ultimately marketing is about selling the product and the way it is presented and sold to consumers is secondary to the product itself.
A clear example of the importance of the product over its marketing is AOL. It was one of the earliest providers of internet service, and it enjoyed a period of market dominance in the 1990’s. The company focused the majority of its efforts on marketing, sending out trial CD’s and various promotions to literally get America online. However, where they failed was in editorial content. All in all, it was a terrible service, and once competitors emerged and gained market share, users quickly realized this and switched to other providers. AOL is now popularly remembered not for its internet service, but for the deceptive tactics they used to try to retain unhappy subscribers. Many of us were left traumatized by the calls to their customer service agents, that made it nearly impossible to cancel service. AOL’s rise and fall is similar to the life and decline of New Age – despite their best marketing efforts, both were fundamentally bad products that ultimately could not be saved.
I found these articles interesting because we discussed Chapter 7 of Brands of faith book,in class on how Madonna is one of the celebrities that donates a lot of money to help the Kabbalah center she donates to and as well releave herself from tax exemption.
Religion has always used marketing to gain followers. From the beginnings of Christianity and Islam the first followers built their religion by promoting the great qualities one can get out of religion. Using these methods religious institutions have prospered throughout the world. The advertising and marketing industry have adopted these same strategies. Advertisers use price placement and promotion to sell their product. They also use branding to set themselves apart from other products and create a persona for their product that consumers can identify. Another way is to show what the consumer will get or achieve through using this product. These are the most common selling tactics. Recently, religion has had to market itself due to the increasingly competitive world we live in today. We no longer live in a time where religion is past down from generation to generation, being bought up in a religious family doesn’t guarantee ones religious faith. In America religion is an open market, this is due to the fact that there is no official state sponsored religion. People are free to shop around all the different religions offered in this diverse country and choose their own, not adopt their parent’s religious views. This open market causes different religious groups to fight for their religion. They need to market their religion in order for people to gain interest in it. Religion is being marketed in many ways; the Internet is a growing form. With online churches such as Joel Osteen’s mega church which is televised and can be viewed on the internet. Joel Osteen’s church is a great example of marketing religion. Osteen uses a very inclusive and practical format for his congregation; which is an easier way to attract potential followers. Osteen doesn’t use specific terms such as god or religion, which are terms that may scare away newcomers. Instead, he concentrates on subjects such as self-help and creating a better life. His church is heavily marketed with web feeds of his TV sermons, and books, which are very popular and generate mass profit.
In Chapter 6, of Brands of faith Einstein, points out the tactics Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey use to promote the word and how all of this love to God and getting the public involved in the mega churches is a way to do marketing. Televangelism is the use of television to communicate the Christian faith, and this is what both of these public figures do. They are both respected and well know in the television world.
Osteen’s brand name is “The Champion in you” he is one of the most powerful speaker and that is why people love him. His show is the most watched religious broadcast in America. He captivates people with his words and he knows how to use it. His shows are like infomercials live and with testimonies, which give the viewer a sense of credibility. Osteens wife is included in most marketing materials, which I feel help the believers identify with them more. In his commercials or websites Osteen does not ask for money they ask for it once the people are at the mega churches. I find this interesting how many people want to be touched by god and are trying to find forgiveness from him by attending these services.
Oprah on the other hand is pretty much similar to Osteen in the marketing sense and trying to condemn people by not looking for god. Einstein stated in her book that her myth is that she is a wise friend whom people can count on. A lot of viewers do not see Oprah as a simple TV host; they see her as a friend, advisor and confidant. This is the way she is able to reach the mass audience because she has gained their trust and attention. Oprah is also a powerful speaker.
All I can say s that I don’t believe that getting people for their money is the correct way to get them close to god. People want to connect with the lord and of what Einstein pointed out in this book these two public figures main target are the gullible.
I found the video below interesting because it addressed all of the points that prof. EInstein addressed in class and in her book.
60 Minutes interview of Joel Olsteen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv8FwssTGCg&feature=related
Secularization theory states that as nations became more industrialized, they correspondingly become less religious. However, the US proved to be a great anomaly that defied this paradigm. Though it was a developed nation, the percentage of the population that practiced religion remained very high. Supply side theory was seen as an improvement, stating that greater religious diversity would yield an increase in overall religious participation. While it addressed the shortcomings of secularization theory in explaining the religious landscape of the US, it is still not a comprehensive model for explaining religious change.
In Chapter 2 of Brands of Faith, Mara Einstein asserts that demand for religion cannot be created where it does not already exist, which makes it different from other marketed products. This contradicts Rodney Stark’s traditional supply side notion that in a free market, more suppliers (religions) would lead to greater demand because more people would be able to find a religion that suited their needs. Einstein’s argument presents an interesting challenge for marketers of religion. One does not switch faith brands as casually as they may switch brands of shampoo or underwear, because it entails a much higher level of commitment. Still, if we consider factors like secularization theory, as in her comparison of Oprah and Joel Osteen, we can see that religions are indeed becoming more commodified. Listerine’s legendary campaign permanently added “halitosis” (a fictional medical condition otherwise known as bad breath) into our vocabulary, thus creating demand for this solution to a problem we never had before. As religions are marketed more like other readily consumable goods, the way we think about religion changes as well. While it would be considerably harder to convince consumers of a malady of the soul than of a physical ailment, that is what also makes it the religion marketer’s dream.
In a chapter from Einstein’s book Brands of Faith she focuses on televangelists. I wasn’t really sure exactly what that was so I decided to look it up and according to Merriam-Webster dictionary it is an evangelist who conducts regularly televised religious programs; hence the word put together televangelist (television and evangelist.) The two people she mentions in the chapter are Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey.
I’ve heard of Oprah all over the place, she’s created a name for herself which people heavily rely on and turned herself into a billion dollar brand. From her own talk show, to a magazine, books, clothing etc. Oprah has become a successful icon for many people around the world especially women, and uses that advantage to profit from. Her famous story is of rags-to-riches and she uses God as a way to interact with these people.
Joel Osteen on the other hand, I never knew much about until I took this class. I visited his website and it seems as though he has his own ministry, the biggest in the world. In the section which tells you what the website is about, it focuses on helping people and giving them what they need. Everywhere you look it is about other people rather than himself but you can tell by the website url alone (www.joelosteen.com) that it is about him as well.
Both of these people have become religious idols around the world who help people and use God as a way to do so. They are looked at as icons and people feed into their stories and purchase their items. Both of these people make a large profit from what they do and by helping people is how they make their money. It seems to me like they are good people in disguise. They use the word of God to spread to people and help them with their own problems but are quick to take their money and profit from it.
I like what Einstein mentions in her book “What is not good is the false belief that Joel or Oprah is your friend or your pastor, who will be there beside you at the hardest times.” I agree with this because although you rely on these two for many answers to your problems, they are never going to be there with you personally through it all. Yes they may provide good advice and you may watch them religiously, for some hope. But there is a difference between someone reaching out to you personally and helping you go through your problems and someone who is reaching out to the rest of the world with advice.
To be honest after learning about Joel and from my previous knowledge about Oprah, I am not too fancy of either person. I understand they have good intentions for the world, but I believe their intentions are mainly profit driven. The more people they get to interact with them, the more money they will receive.
Today in class we briefly discussed branding and the professor mentioned the apple being more than just a computer, the apple icon symbolizes one of the top advances in technology. Apple not only creates computers but Ipads, Ipods, and more. Today this icon has become very popular with everyone so much that one person can own all of thes items. I myself have become a victim of the apple. I own a Mac laptop, an Ipod touch and my parents own a Mac desktop for the house.
Another thing I found very interesting and could relate to is when she mentioned the age groups of young children recognizing brands such as McDonalds golden arches. I have a younger sister who is about to be four years old and it had me thinking, does she recognize brands as well? After thinking about it for a little while I realized she does. Whenever we ask her what she would like to eat she says “McDonald’s” or “chicken nuggets (from McDonald’s).” When we are out she chooses Spongebob wherever she sees it. Nickelodeon has practically brain washed her. She owns Spongebob bed sheets, camera, almost every type of Spongebob clothing, games, shoes, anything you can think of, my sister has it in Spongebob.
In Einstein’s book Brands of Faith she mentions ” … unconsciously everything you know about the brand, including your past experiences with it, comes into playat the time of purchase.” I never thought about this until I read that, but I quickly noticed how true it is. When we go to buy something we always think about what other people have told us about the product or similar products from the same brand . I know I love Mac and so do my parents. It started one year when my mother asked for and Ipod for Christmas and then we all eventually received one for our birthdays or Christmas after that because we loved hers so much. When I began college I wanted a Mac laptop because I knew people who had one and were all so satisfied with it and since I knew that they were top knotch I decided to get one. At the time my parents were still using a Microsoft computer and after about a year they hated it and were using my laptop all the time, because it was so much better, eventually they went out and bought a Mac desktop for themselves. My sister needs everything Spongebob because she is constantly watching it on TV so when she chooses something it is automatically Spongebob since that is what she knows and has great experience with. This is all examples of how our experiences with a product come into play and determine whether we buy it or not.
“Products and faiths are both sources for identity creation,” Einstein mentions in her book. I agree with this because we use our faith to follow a certian lifestyle and we use products to represent that lifestyle. I realized this chapter will help me with my final paper which is on the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) products. These are religious products used to represent religous meaning to Christians. We tend to think of faith as one and branding as something different but today they are both combined in many ways. Faith has become a brand and we all look at different faiths in a perspective from what we know about it and our experiences with people of other faiths.
Over the spring break I visited my cousins in Tampa, Florida. It was right in time for the Easter holiday. While visiting I came across this mailer on the counter. I thought this was a mailer sent advertising a new movie, or TV show at first glance. When I looked further at the AD trying to figure out what it was about, I realized it was an advertisement for a new church! I was in complete shock because it looks like the type of ad for a movie or a new store and product. Once I realized what it was actually about, I began to look at the way it was formatted, the pictures, symbols, text, and words highlighted in bold used to create this religious home Mailer.
This is the front of the AD, which shows a bunch of people wandering around seemingly lost is presented in black, around the center highlighted person in white with the huge word ONE on their chest. The words a brand new series are right under this, and the words brand new are highlighted in bold. This made me think of the new churches and faiths discussed in class and our research that centers the person faith on the individual. The figure is enlightened and away from the other figures is interesting. Also, the fact that it’s a “brand new series” shows their offering a new faith and practice to these homes in the Tampa area. I believe it was also advertising practicing religous faith from home on your TV by watching their church live videos, as well as attending. Even the little symbol at the bottom, almost seemed like a trademark symbol for the church like most companies or TV shows use.
The back of the Ad became even more interesting. There was a scanner barcode to find them from your phone on the top right, and find meaning in your life by texting hope to the number on the back. This I think demonstrates who its targeting, possibly people who don’t really have any set purpose or meaning, or religion already in their lives. This Ad was for an Easter Celebration and gathering, putting in bold and highlighting the words “THIS EASTER” in the beginning of the message, and its purpose was to invite you to listen to great music and inspire you to a greater living. I thought this was very different from any mailer I have ever seen, and that it found its way amongst the rest of the regular requested mail. My cousins are Catholic Christians, and attend their own catholic church in which we attended this Easter.
I looked at the website, and it has more ideas and values that were a bit new to me. If interested here is the link to learn more about this specific church.