The Church of Scientology, which has repeatedly been accused of being a cult, ran an ad in the Super Bowl last night. Or at least, a lot of people think that’s what happened.In fact, Scientology did not have an ad in “the” Super Bowl. Rather, it bought local TV advertising is several major spot markets — such as New York and Los Angeles — during breaks saved for regional advertisers and local channel advertising.
Thus many people in major metro areas believed they had seen a Super Bowl ad for Scientology when in fact they only saw a much cheaper piece of local TV advertising.
The church had been planning the stunt for months, according to Tony Ortega, a former Village Voice editor who runs a web site devoted to investigating Scientology.
The ad itself, titled “The Knowledge,” was first aired on YouTube on Dec. 18. It’s 1 minute long, but was cut to 30 seconds for its run during the Baltimore Ravens’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers. (Even local TV advertising is pretty expensive during the game). The church almost certainly did not spend $8 million to get the ad into the game, as reported by The Daily Mail.
The ad was first run on Jan. 20 during the AFC Championship game, Ortega notes. By amazing coincidence, the trailer for Tom Cruise’s new movie Oblivion ran in the same game. Cruise, of course, is the most famous Scientologist on the planet.
Photo: Tony Ortega
Church members were then invited to the local Scientology centres to watch the Super Bowl together, according to this ad obtained by Ortega (right).The ad will look as if it were an a national Super Bowl ad buy to Scientologists because the list of local markets it aired in contains Scientology’s major centres, such as Clearwater, Fla.; Pasadena, Calif.; L.A.; Sacramento, Calif; and Seattle.
The ad features portraits of cute, hip young people staring curiously into the camera. A voiceover calls for them to struggle against conformity:
To the rebels, the artists, the free-thinkers, and the innovators.
Who care less about labels and more about truth.
Who believe nonconformity is more than a bumper sticker.
That knowledge is more than words on a page.
You’re young, you’re old, you’re powerful beyond measure.
Last night, the ad had been viewed 60,000 times — including all the views it had collected online since December. This morning, it had accumulated 75,000 views.
Most marketers expect their Super Bowl activity to accumulate millions of exposures. By that measure, the ad was something of a failure. However, the church isn’t looking for millions of members, of course.
It’s just looking for you.
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