Getting the Five-Day Plan Over in Detroit

1000 smokers took the course.

E. J. FOLKENBERG, Secretary, Temperance Department, General Conference

WE HAVE just finished the Five-Day Plan in the Ford Auditorium in De­troit. One thousand smokers took the course. We have also made some significant discoveries in Detroit that may well alter the entire future of the Five-Day Plan. Here is the Detroit story.

One year ago the Gen­eral Conference recommended a Five-Day Plan for Detroit prior to the General Con­ference session, to create a favorable im­pression on the public mind for the com­ing session.

We rented the Ford Auditorium, an $8 million marble building, home of the De­troit symphony orchestra and scene of the finest cultural programs in the city, and available for a rental fee of $350 a night for the main floor, which seats approxi­mately 1,800 people. A Five-Day Plan of this size sounds presumptuous until you realize that there are more than 4 million people in the greater Detroit area.

Our setup team consisted of J. P. Win­ston, Gorden Engen, A. K. Phillips, E. N. Wendth, E. H. Atchley, and R. D. Moon, in concert with local Adventist pastors in the city. Church members distributed 30,­000 brochures. The Detroit Council of Churches sent announcements and bro­chures to nearly 800 local churches. The film One in 20,000 was shown to more than 13,000 high school students, and brochures were distributed so that they could invite their parents.

Working closely with a Detroit public re­lations firm, we had a field day with radio, television, and the newspapers. We were in­terviewed on numerous TV programs, spent three and a half hours on one popu­lar radio interview program, and held a successful news conference at the Capital Press Club, which was covered by televi­sion, newspapers, and radio stations.

The Wayne Council on Smoking and Health threw its weight behind the pro­gram, distributing tens of thousands of bro­chures via the American Cancer Society and the American Heart and Tuberculo­sis societies, with mailings made to promi­nent physicians throughout the city. Teams of Adventist ladies manned multiple phones for registrations, because we were charging $1.50 per person to cover the cost of materials used.

Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, professor of sur­gery at Loma Linda University, who at­tained national prominence with his heart-surgery team in India and Pakistan sponsored by the U.S. State Department, ar­rived to lecture on the medical aspects of the program. Dr. Alton Ochsner of New Orleans was slated to appear on the pro­gram as well. Our publicity campaign ran well. We were cordially received by all news media. Brethren Winston and Atchley made a dramatic impact upon the public school system. They moved from high school to high school showing the film One in 20,000 on a tight schedule, earning the gratitude and praise of high school of­ficials throughout the city.

We Hit a "First"

There was only one thing wrong. In spite of the daily barrage of newspapers, TV, and radio, people were not respond­ing! In Detroit we hit a "first" by appearing on the front page of the Detroit News with its 1 million circulation, in a pre­program story. When I was introduced to the city editor he said, "Mr. Folkenberg, I have been waiting a long time for you."

He went on to say that when we held the program in Battle Creek, a friend of his took the course and wrote a story for the Battle Creek newspaper which he had read with great interest. He said to himself at the time, "If that program ever comes to Detroit, I'm going to publicize it."

That city editor was a man of his word! We remained on the front page during Wednesday (before the Saturday evening program) through all six editions of that great newspaper. But still there was only a trickle of registrations coming in.

Here were the problems we faced:

  1. The prestige of the denomination rode on this program in the city of Detroit. It was to be preparation for the coming General Conference session.
  2. In an auditorium seating 1,800 peo­ple on the lower floor, how would 350 peo­ple appear huddled in the first five rows?
  3. Drs. Ochsner and Wareham were in­terrupting their heavy schedules to partici­pate in the Plan.
  4. Major health agencies of the city had thrown themselves wholeheartedly into this program. How would it look with only a handful of people to show for our efforts?
  5. How would newspapers and televi­sion react to such a small attendance?
  6. By Thursday evening (prior to the program beginning on Saturday evening), we still had only a few hundred people registered.

I had not been involved in a Five-Day Plan for nearly a year. I had been out of touch with a possibly diminished public in­terest in programs to help people stop smoking. In my travels round the field I had heard many pastors describe the pres­ence of a spirit of fatalism pervading the minds of people who still smoked. I real­ized that millions of people had stopped smoking following the Surgeon General's report, and those who had not been able to stop may have developed a fatalistic atti­tude. But I had not come up against this problem for nearly a year. But believe me, I found myself eyeball to eyeball with the problem in Detroit, with only twenty-four hours to go until program time, with only a bare handful of registrations. Suddenly it was the "testing time."

A Rapid Survey

Realizing that something was seriously wrong and that we had only a matter of hours to correct it, I dashed out of the Statler-Hilton and down the street and be­gan rapid survey on the main streets of Detroit. Spotting a hapless smoker on the street I would ask, "Have you heard about the Five-Day Plan in the Ford Auditorium tomorrow evening?" He would usually re­ply, "Yes, I've heard of it. It's all over the newspapers, radio, and television." My next question was, "Have you thought about attending?" About eight out of ten smokers replied, "I'd like to stop smoking, but I'll just gain weight." At least 80 per cent of the smokers declared they simply couldn't overcome tobacco and battle obes­ity at the same time. It was too much of a struggle. One man said, "What's the differ­ence if I die of lung cancer, emphysema, or a heart condition caused by over­weight?" Smoking is being looked upon to­day as one of the most effective ways to con­trol weight.

A Crash Publicity Program

When the impact of these replies hit me, I realized we would have to move rapidly if we were to salvage the Detroit Five-Day Plan. We immediately moved in on radio, television, and the newspapers with the fol­lowing story: "In view of the fact that so many people who stop smoking begin to gain weight, you will be interested to know that during each evening of the Five-Day Plan in Ford Auditorium, a weight-control program will be presented entitled 'Weigh­ing What You Want to Weigh.' This will be a part of each evening's program during the Five-Day Plan. It will show you how to make proper weight a normal way of life, without the need for crash programs or special diets."

Newspaper, television, and radio people immediately pricked up their ears and said, "Now, that really makes sense." But time was running out fast! There are often sig­nificant delays between placing an an­nouncement and its appearance on TV or in the newspapers. What happened?

The Results

When news of the weight program be­gan to reach the Detroit public (a small segment in view of the lateness of the hour), there was an immediate reaction. Telephones suddenly came to life. The whole idea made sense to people. It an­swered the questions they were asking. It removed fears or objections to the pro­gram, and the results were very apparent. At curtain time we walked on stage before one thousand of Detroit's finest citizens, eager, expectant, and as warm an audience as I have ever addressed. They were there for dual help on smoking and obesity, and were seemingly twice as receptive to every­thing we said. And I will here make a prediction. If we had featured the weight-con­trol program on the 100,000 brochures that were distributed, and if we had publicized it from the very start, we could have jammed that auditorium with three thou­sand people who were looking for help in the two vital areas of smoking and obesity.

The weight-control program we pre­sented each night in Detroit not only res­cued the Five-Day Plan but helped to make it a huge success!

I had taken to Detroit a copy of the new, single-concept film series Weighing What You Want to Weigh in the 16 mm. size, which was actually a proof print of the se­ries. I had intended to use only a few parts of it during the fifth night as a visual aid to the lecture Dr. Wareham would present. But after counseling together, we decided to show two segments of the film each eve­ning, discussing it publicly and reviewing its various points on the blackboard after each showing. It was an overwhelming suc­cess. The audience was delighted over the weight-control aspects of the Five-Day Plan, and the film generated as much inter­est and questions as the Five-Day Plan.

By the time you read this the new film series, Weighing What You Want to Weigh, will be distributed to key points through­out the field, for use in the new projector which shows instant movies. We were pro­jecting a distance of nearly 160 feet onto a 20-foot-square screen, and consequently used the huge arc-light projection equip­ment in the Ford Auditorium.

You can readily see that the new series, Weighing What You Want to Weigh, has a warm spot in my heart. It did wonders for our Detroit Five-Day Plan in a dramatic way. It helps to answer the questions peo­ple are asking. It can be shown independ­ently as a series on its own or in connection with the Five-Day Plan. It is timely because obesity is America's number one health problem, according to the U.S. Public Health Service.

Results in Detroit

Into that beautiful auditorium every night poured a thousand people who were so warm and receptive that they accorded us a standing ovation at one point in the program. The physical arrangements of reg­istration were smoothly handled by Brother Phillips, temperance secretary of the Michi­gan Conference. Every night that audience experienced a changing image of the Sev­enth-day Adventist Church. They read in their daily papers accounts of marvelous deliverance from tobacco and obesity as written by one of the top writers for the Detroit News. There were no complaints about the $1.50 registration fee for materi­als used. Their $1.50 registration was of double value because the program dealt with both smoking and obesity. Each partic­ipant received the little weight-control pamphlet entitled "Participant's Guide to Weighing What You Want to Weigh." Never have we received such warm audi­ence appreciation for a program. I can only say that the new weight-control program has added fascinating, thrilling dimensions to the Five-Day Plan, and makes a double impact upon people wherever it is shown.

This is the Detroit story. We thank God for another arrow in the quiver of medical missionary action. We rejoice because this new series on weight control is a sophisti­cated tool, beautifully photographed, yet simple in its message. The Lord is wonder­fully blessing in the preparation of tools we can use to answer questions people are asking.

I thought you would be gratified to hear the Detroit story because of the implica­tions it has in your own field of labor.

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E. J. FOLKENBERG, Secretary, Temperance Department, General Conference

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