Saturday, June 01, 2002

Ad campaign aims to fill Brown stadium

Media proclaim good word

By James Pilcher,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Those bumper stickers promoting the upcoming Billy Graham mission that are already popular around town are getting blown up big time this weekend.

        Organizers of this month's four-day event on Friday unveiled the media blitz that will be hitting the Tristate's airwaves, newspapers and billboards beginning today.

[photo] Television ad for the Billy Graham crusade
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        The mission, featuring the Rev. Mr. Graham and several contemporary Christian musical acts, is scheduled for June 27-30 at Paul Brown Stadium.

        The campaign's TV spots feature a man in an empty airport as an allegory to the afterlife. Print ads refer to the Bengals, and billboards convey the same message as those bumper stickers — “God only knows how it will change your life.”

        A full-page ad features prominent African-Americans from the area, including the Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., with the message that they had helped invite the Rev. Mr. Graham to help bring healing after the April 2001 riots.

        The campaign costs the local organization putting on the mission about $305,000.

        But two local media firms have donated another $150,000 worth of services, and local outlets are giving free time and space as well — pushing the total worth of the campaign to more than a half-million dollars.

        “We're just trying to turn the lights as bright as we can as we approach the mission,” said Richard A. Segal Jr., chief executive officer of HSR Business to Business Inc., who is serving as the local communications committee chairman for the mission, and whose firm donated its time to the effort.

        “We're certainly going after the boomer and the younger generations with these ads, but just because the ads are contemporary and upbeat, that doesn't mean that they won't appeal to those from 30-60.”

        The ads will be seen throughout Greater Cincinnati, but some have been placed in the Dayton market as well.

        A local mission board that has collected contributions will cover the cost of the ad campaign.

        Officials say that the ad campaign is the last stage of a process that began a year ago at the local church level.

        “We don't have enough money in the entire Billy Graham organization to fill the stadium if all we did was buy advertising,” said Rick Marshall, director of missions for the Rev. Mr. Graham's Minneapolis-based ministry. “What this does give us is credibility, branding if you will. This makes what people have already been doing relevant to even more people.”


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