Good Ads for Bad Stuff

April 8, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More

I was watching a marvelous recent fundamentalist ad and my childhood training touched my consciousness. I was five when my parents first brought a TV into our house. They watched with me, and explained that any product that was worth getting didn’t need to be advertised. Basically, they implanted the idea that commercials were plugs for stuff you don’t need, or were too inadequate to sell on their own merits.

I easily absorbed this meme. Anytime I see a product on the tube, it feels like a negative review. As I grew older this gave me some trouble, because I noticed some products that I already liked being advertised. But I got over it.

Commercials these days do have some of the highest production values out there. And this one linked above is visually stunning and emotionally persuasive. But for a dark and dangerous version of the product they are selling: Prayer.

I would have embedded it, but embedding was disabled. I suspect because the ad was being panned by rationalists around the web; not their intended audience. But for visual interest, here is an ad from a few years ago that appeals to the same people, The Gathering Storm:

Really, go see the new one. Much more powerful. They are learning.


Category: advertising, American Culture, Art, Communication, Culture, Current Events, Propaganda, Religion

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (2)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan – That commercial is really dramatic, as you suggest. Here's the stated premise of the organization sponsoring it (

    "The mission of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture."

    It just drives these people nuts to keep prayer and government separate, as one can see based on the images in the commercial.

    I'd like to propose a prayer based on the new commercial: "Dear God, please give us the great gift of sparing us from the consequences of your out-of-control wrath."

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    And here is the associated parody video. Not terribly clever, but certainly fast off the mark.

    <object style="height: 390px; width: 640px"><param name="movie" value=""><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed src="; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="640" height="390"></object>

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