I saw a video of a segment from the ABC TV show 'The Gruen Transfer' earlier this week. In 'The Pitch' they ask advertising agencies to try and sell the un-sellable, things like, 'child labour', 'invading New Zealand' and 'euthanasing all people over 80'. This week they touched on a particularly sensitive topic, this week their pitch was to 'ban all religion'. The video link can be seen here.
This was an interesting topic and the two agencies tried different approaches, the first was more scientific, 'Let's make religion history' and the second more emotional, 'Lose religion and find each other'.
What I find fascinating is that neither ad agency fulfilled it's brief. The brief was to 'ban' religion, not, 'advocate an alternative perspective' or 'raise awareness for what atheism believes'. The ad brief was to 'ban all religion'. From this perspective, I'd suggest neither agency 'won'.
I also didn't think that either of the approaches were particularly humorous. I'd suggest there could be plenty of ways of making an entertaining and lighthearted dig at 'religion', but both seemed to be sincere and serious and I felt that this missed the point of the segment in trying to 'sell the un-sellable', i.e. respond to hyperbole with hyperbole.
Some agencies refused to pitch for this (the first time for any on the Gruen Transfer). Some people have criticised these agencies for not pitching, but then again, would these same people be criticsing the ad agencies if they refused to pitch for, 'Bash all gay people', or 'Bring back apartheid'? I think some agencies rightly viewed this 'pitch' as a sensitive topic.
Yet the most unfortunate thing about the ads in my view were that they perpetuated myths, prejudices and distortions about religion, i.e. that Jesus is a fairy tale (Let's make religion history) and that religion is the number one cause of war (Lose religion and find each other). I felt they did little to promote a healthy discussion on these most important questions. Perhaps I'm wrong on this, do you think the ads promoted a healthy attitude of discussion on these topics? Did the agencies fail in their brief? Have I missed the humour?
Would love your thoughts.