Friday, September 02, 2005

Jesus's body piercing

News today of an advertising poster campaign designed to encourage more people into church other than for weddings and funerals. It's by the same advertising agency that attempted to give Skoda an image makeover, so taking on the Church of England, and for free, one thing's for sure - they like a challenge at that firm. Worth hiring them just for their attitude.

So, why is this an English Language story? Well... First up, the approach that Fallon, the advertising agency, has taken is interesting, and the posters are worth analysing as short texts. Graphologically they are striking, while the message makes use of interesting lexical, pragmatic and semantic choices. Check 'em out. These are masterpieces of understated simplicity, clearing away the clutter of religion to give a message that is about the heart of community life. For all their simplicity, these posters are actually very clever. You'll find one reproduced visually in The Telegraph article below, while The Times quotes the slogans of a few more. If anyone finds a link to the full set somewhere out in cyberspace, gimme a shout so I can add it here.

But what's also interesting is how sharply the language used on these posters contrasts with the language used in more recent campaigns. These adapted all sorts of non-standard and/or "modern" language forms in a bid to present an image that would get punters under the age of 87 through the church door. These forms included:
  • Popular slogans, adapted to the church message "The Church is for life. Not just for Christians"
  • Slang expressions, such as describing the Virgin Mary as having a "bad hair day"
  • Text messaging language forms
  • References to drugs and, my favourite of all, body piercing - "Jesus had his done 2000 years ago"

It's as painful as a teacher with a mid-life crisis trying to use yoof slang.

So, if you have to create an original text for your coursework, you could do worse than put yourself in the shoes of a Fallon "creative", charged with creating an ad campaign to improve the public image of another PR disaster-zone. You'd need to do a whole series to get near the word count, but hey, that's what Fallon just did...

And if you have the Oxford English Dictionary online at your school/college, can you look up 'churchy' and let me know if they've got that word yet?...

Attempt to make church less 'churchy'

Skoda ad agency gives the Church a push

Catch the one about Jesus's body piercing

Getting into Advertising


At 12:49 pm, Anonymous cĂ©line said...

According to the OED, the first recorded use of 'churchy' was in 1843. Definition: 1 Strongly smakcing of the church. Obstrusive in allegiance or conformity to the Church. 1a Resembling that of a church.

At 5:18 pm, Blogger E-Julie said...

Hey Celine, welcome to the Language Legend and thanks for that! Wow! 1843?! And there was me thinking it was a hip modern word!


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