You seldom find a good Seventh-day Adventist who has the Coca-Cola habit; but, as a denomination, we might well analyze the advertising technique that sells 34,000,000 bottles of this beverage a day.
Repetition is the foundation upon which all successful advertising rests. Because the Coca-Cola Company has little to say about the virtues of its product, its sales success must be largely attributed to an astute advertising policy that keeps the trade name constantly before the American public.
I do not recall ever reading- anything specific about the good qualities of this soft drink, except that it is refreshing, and this is so general that it is scarcely a selling point. But we do see the words Coca-Cola everywhere—in magazines, in newspapers, on billboards, on drinking glasses, on counter displays, on serving trays, on napkins, on dispensary units, and on thousands of small store signs. It is this repetition, without benefit of sales argument, that makes Coca-Cola belong, and induces the public to accept it and want it.
Adventists likewise shun cigarettes, but we might learn a lesson from the American Tobacco Company. This firm hit a new high in repetition when it introduced in its Lucky Strike radio program the now-famous, even though monotonous, "LS/MFT" announcement, which means "Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco." At one time it seemed to me that this was carrying a good thing too far, but I changed my mind when I met a classmate who now writes advertising copy for one of the nation's largest agencies. He told me that his firm had the Lucky Strike account, and of course I was immediately interested.
"Tell me about this LS/MFT business," I said. "It seems to me that it would drive your radio listeners crazy."
"Maybe it does," he admitted, "but it sells Lucky Strikes."
What can we learn from this? The root of our entire public relations program must be repetition. There are vast ramifications in which we can do and are doing this in growing publicity effort under the direction of our General Conference Bureau of Press Relations, but repetition is the foundation. And if we remember this, every small item and every seemingly insignificant church notice in the newspapers become important as they fit into a plan to make Adventists belong.
This fundamental was well expressed recently when I talked with Mrs. Florita Cook who has done excellent work in publicizing our Berkeley, California, church. Mrs. Cook is an experienced newspaper woman who has had many outstanding stories about Seventh-day Adventists printed in the Berkeley Gazette. I believe that she is more pleased with the regular weekly announcement of church activities than with the more important stories she has been able to insert in the newspaper.
"Here we are in the same column with all the other churches of our community," she said. "Week after week readers who scan this feature see 'Seventh-day Adventist'; quite possibly they read about us, and as they learn more about us they gradually get the feeling that we belong."
This is the first impression we want to create in the public mind—that we are a stable religious organization and not a fly-by-night sect.
Much of this can be accomplished simply by getting the name of the denomination into print a thousand times over, for the mass mind of the reading public reacts easily to impressions. The simple rule of repetition which works so well for commercial firms will certainly work for us too. People may not agree with us, but we have overcome the first hurdle by belonging.
Actually we want to go far beyond this fundamental advertising principle, for we must inform the world of Adventism by getting into newspapers and magazines what we believe, and what we are doing to substantiate those beliefs. To ministers and laymen who may despair over what they believe to be meager results in publicity, we submit the suggestion that just three words, appearing often enough in print, will set up a subconscious acceptance of the denomination in the public mind. Those three words are "Seventh-day Adventist."