Are You There God? It's Me, Madison Avenue.
How to make an ad for a church.
Are the ads effective? They're certainly professional. You've got to be impressed with the cinematography and editing. The high-budget gloss alone will likely sway a few viewers to visit Scientology's content-rich Web site.
But Scientology's marketing challenges are different from those faced by religions with more established bona fides. By now—especially in the wake of the Tom Cruise couch-jumping incident, and the subsequent snarky national conversation—I think there are a fair number of people out there who have a nascent, inchoate sense that Scientology is weird. They're looking for reassurances that this is a faith for everyday people, not just eccentric celebrities. They're wondering whether Scientology's worship services will be something they're comfortable with. These grandiose yet stubbornly vague ads, with their intimations that Scientology holds the answers to all life's riddles, don't bother to address any of those less lofty concerns.
Grade: B-. Solidly crafted, attractive ads that grab our attention. It remains to be seen whether they'll grab new parishioners.
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Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.