Modern Advertising in Evangelism

Advertising since the World War has undergone a complete revolution. How can we take advantage of its techniques in evangelism?

By W. R. A. MADGWICK, Evangelist, North England Conference

Advertising since the World War has undergone a complete revolution. Com­mercial concerns which formerly were content to spend a few hundred dollars annually in making known their products or services, now consider it essential to spend tens of thousands of dollars. They realize that to survive in these intensely competitive times, they must advertise. And to succeed, they must adver­tise well. Accordingly, advertising has become a vital business, a fine art.

Commercial firms have not only greatly in­creased the volume and media of their adver­tising, they have not only utilized the skill and ever-increasing technical improvements of art and printing, but they have also given the closest study to the psychology of advertising. They have grasped the fact that unless the laws of psychology are skillfully followed, their advertisements, however numerous and however cleverly reproduced, will not achieve the desired results.

Successful modern advertisements are there­fore carefully designed (1) to attract atten­tion, (2) to be remembered, and (3) to result in a decision to act according to the stimulus created. They are no longer passive and sug­gestive. They are active and dynamic because the psychological laws governing the phe­nomena of attention, memory, and action are studiously observe‘

The factors producing the phenomenon of attention receive the foremost consideration, because it is realized that in direct proportion to the stimulus thereby created will be the sub­sequent phenomena of memory and action. These attention factors are fourfold—intensity, contrast, novelty, and interest.

Bright colors tend to produce a more intense stimulus than dull ones, big type greater stim­ulus than small, and large advertisements greater stimulus than diminutive ones. A poster printed in bright colors or on bright paper surrounded by plain black-and-white posters gains attention by reason of contrast. The eye soon gets tired of seeing the same thing; so unless an advertisement is frequently changed, it will not be noticed.

In view of all this, the evangelist cannot be indifferent to the importance of up-to-date publicity in his work. Gratefully acknowledg­ing the lessons learned from his forerunners who blazed the trails of evangelistic advertising, he must keep abreast with modern im­provements and needs. He must carefully select the best media of advertising in his own district. He must avail himself of all suitable mechanical and artistic inventions. Above all, he must study the psychology of advertising.

Like commercial concerns, the Adventist evangelist, commissioned as he is to give God's final message to this last generation, has to meet and break through tremendous competi­tion. Religious movements, political bodies, and "isms" of every description all around are clamoring for attention. More than ever the great adversary is fast increasing his soul-deadening allurements. With God's help, the Adventist evangelist must study to make his advertising more and more dynamic.

Increasing competition and advancing prices make it necessary for him to spend on a larger and more expensive scale than in former years. With the serious handicap of shrinking budgets, how can he increase his advertising? —By studying to make every penny spent pro­ductive of some effective result, and by skill­fully using only the most profitable media.

Handbills, when faithfully distributed, are still the evangelist's best medium of publicity. But they must be well printed, attractively designed, and distinctively varied. In the layout, all units must be correctly balanced, with but one thought dominating. This domi­nant thought, or spearhead of the advertise­ment, should not be the evangelist's name, for none of us is a national celebrity. The domi­nant thought must not be an organ recital or choral performance, valuable as these helps are, because if they are so emphasized, people will come chiefly for these. Rather, the domi­nant thought must be the message to be given, the subject to be presented. Titles should therefore be chosen with all possible care, every word judiciously weighed, so that the whole will attract, impress, and stimulate the reader to attend the meeting.

Posters—the heavy artillery of advertising —should also have this one thought dominat­ing. They should not have one word too many, and should be well designed, colorfully printed or written, and prominently displayed on se­lected sites. Newspaper announcements tie with posters for second place, especially in smaller cities and towns. They reach the scattered people and serve as indispensable re­minders for all.

Whatever the advertisement—handbills in the first class, posters and newspapers in the second, window cards, billboards, and other miscellaneous advertisements in a third group —they must all be designed to produce the desired psychological effect upon those who see them.


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By W. R. A. MADGWICK, Evangelist, North England Conference

March 1939

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