The Lord Jesus Christ made the observation that the children of this world are sometimes wiser in their generation than the children of light. I wonder whether our fellow religionists are sometimes wiser in their efforts at advertising to attract large audiences than the men of the advent, who really have something which the world needs to know.
In August, 1943, Jehovah's Witnesses staged an evangelistic effort of three days' duration in the magnificent $3,000,000 Municipal Auditorium in Minneapolis. The key lecture of this short series was scheduled for Sunday night of August 22, under the title "Freedom in the New World."
It is interesting to note the extraordinary advertising campaign which they put on to fill the auditorium to overflowing on this Sunday night. The magazine Consolation gives this illuminating picture of their advertising plans for filling the auditorium :
"On August 9, 701 streetcars and 269 buses began carrying advertisements of the lecture ; taxis and private cars cropped up wearing hundreds of purple-and-white streamers inviting the public to attend the 'Free Nation's' Theocratic Assembly. Posted in eye-catching spots throughout the 'Twin Cities' were fifty billboard signs. Twelve hundred show-window Placards were placed in the display windows of the downtown business section. Adding to this array of mute testimony, beautifully stenciled announcements of the main lecture blossomed forth on the sides of automobiles. Topping all these for impressiveness were the two mammoth banners stretched out on the Municipal Auditorium itself. Nearly ten feet high and fifty feet long, these huge streamers were visible for great distances.
"Dominating the advertising campaign, however, were the hundreds of living, breathing, moving 'advertisements' that appeared at strategic points on the streets of the 'Twin Cities.' These were Jehovah's Witnesses themselves. Carrying on the front and back of their persons placards informing passers-by of the big lecture, these workers distributed hundreds of thousands of leaflets to the people. It was this part of the advertising campaign that was stressed at the Friday afternoon 'assembly for advertising,' and it constituted the final push that climaxed a highly successful publicity drive that resulted in an overflow crowd on Sunday, August 22."—Nov. 24, 1943, p. 38.
Think of the intensive and extensive advertising effort concentrated on one Sunday meeting ! It might give us some idea how extensively we ought to advertise when we go into a city to conduct meetings for three or four months. When we are to conduct meetings for several months, our need of an extra large audience on the opening Sunday is far greater than it was for these people to have a capacity audience for the one Sunday of their meetings.
It would appear that the day of securing a large audience in a large city on little advertising is past. Competition from meetings and amusements of all kinds—churches, lodges, theaters, movies, dance halls, and sports—and the unique methods used to secure the attention of the people make it necessary for us to offer something really appealing, something that will catch the eye and grip the mind, if we are to succeed in getting people to listen to the stupendous and solemn truths of God's Word.
This situation of the present-day world needs to be thoroughly understood by conference executives in making a budget for a large city effort, and the evangelist himself must know how to meet this situation with advertising methods which will draw an audience.