Written by Lauren Mckinnon
Omg! Did you see that? The LP is now a bunch of Satan worshippers!
Wait… what? No, no, no. Let’s try that again, from the top!
This week, the LP launched a new marketing campaign that didn’t quite showcase the inclusivity it intended to when it released a collection of memes that turned out to be a failed attempt to reach the masses via a Freedom of Religion campaign. Inclusive? Freedom of religion? Sounds good, right? On its face, it really was. The intention here was most likely not to alienate or offend, however, timing and delivery left something to be desired from the more conservative branch of the LP. The campaign included a collection of memes with liberty related quotes by a wide range of different religious and philosophical leaders. Sounds harmless enough. And generally speaking, it was. Except for one. The quote itself oozes Libertarian principles; however the source of this quote rustled quite a few jimmies. Including a Satanic Temple Tenet as a quote, the day before Good Friday was an atrocious oversight that lacked sensitivity and sensibility, intentional or not.
“One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.” – 3rd Fundamental Tenet, The Satanic Temple
With Yesterday being Good Friday, a Christian holiday, in a country that is populated by majority Christians, (roughly 70%), the inclusion of this particular quote, was in poor taste, and even worse timing. But let’s not throw stones just yet.
First, let’s talk about the marketing strategy the LP is or at least should be using to guide new marketing campaigns this season. The strategy should always be based on the foundation of gearing content towards a target audience. Currently, with the political atmosphere and the landscape thick with disenfranchised conservatives, this is our main target audience, whether we like it or not. This ebbs and flows, sometimes it will be liberals, other times it will be independents, but today, it is conservatives. To conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives, who are looking for a place to land politically after being left behind by their party, quoting a source that labels itself as “Satanic,” is one of the most off-putting and unpalatable things we could present to potential newcomers who may not fully understand our platform on freedom of religion just yet, or what the Satanic Temple actually is (I will address this later).
“We fully support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology. We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which which either aid or attack any religion.” – LP Plank 1.2 Expression and Communication
No one is saying we have to become conservative or act like we are all Christians, but we should recognize that there are a lot of us here, and we are here because we believe in liberty, too. We can find aspects of our party platform and its planks that appeal to our current target audience without alienating potential future members. The LP is known for being edgy, and even offensive, which we often pride ourselves on. This is ok! But sometimes, even the most successful comedians go too far. Not that this was intended to be humorous at all. It wasn’t. This campaign as a whole was well thought out and well meaning. But sometimes, you have to take the turd out of the basket of roses because it will make the whole bunch stink. Content and context are important, as well as understanding that your audience may not always “get it.”
We are marketing a brand here, and we are marketing Liberty! Oddly enough, there is a marketing technique that would benefit this campaign and this party that stems from the Christian evangelism and conversion philosophy. “Milk before the meat.” Don’t go throwing out most convoluted, off-the-wall, or even scandalous topics such as the age of consent, incest, or even necrophilia to new and learning liberty lovers. Stay away from these more unseemly and controversial topics in marketing campaigns, and stick to the basics. Personal liberties, property rights, Non-Aggression-Principle, etc..
What is The Satanic Temple?
Next, let’s discuss the Satanic Temple. The Satanic tenet quoted is NOT of the LeVeyan occultists who worship Satan but is rather from a religious/philosophical group that does not worship or believe in “Satan” at all. They are a humanist group who are currently launching a campaign against violence in schools! *Shudders* OH THE HORROR… oh wait… they’re doing something good? Why yes, yes they are. The name is intentionally misleading, and as an atheistic/agnostic group, the choice of name was more tongue in cheek and symbolic of rebellion.
“It is the position of The Satanic Temple that religion can, and should be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name ‘Satan’ is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. The Satanist should active work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.” – TST
Now, the person who quoted this may have known these facts about TST, however, as marketers, we have to understand that our target audience may not be as well informed, and all they have to go off of are context clues that we give them, and the only context clue here, is the word “Satan.” Unless we include a disclaimer at the bottom of the graphic, which would be far too wordy, this one should have gotten a trip to the chopping block.
“But why is it ok to quote Buddha or…”
Well, you see…
Christians don’t view Dharmic faiths to be a direct insult or threat to their religion. When discussing Abrahamic faiths, it’s a little different, but I am not going to get into the religious war history between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. The problem comes when we plaster the word “Satan” without any further context in a campaign that is meant to invite people to our brand of freedom. It doesn’t make a Christian feel “free” when they are staring at the name of their arch nemesis, even if they are wrong about the content and context of the quote and its source. It is our job, as marketers, to make sure the audience understands what we are trying to say, and if they don’t convey that message, then we messed up. Not them. Ask Nivea, who released an advertisement this month stating “White Is Purity.” Was this intended to be racist? No. Was it stupid? Absolutely. And I shouldn’t even have to explain why.
Crisis Management Do’s and Don’t’s
If your marketing team’s response to its outraged audience in regards to a poorly received advertisement is defensive posturing and making the people you are trying to reach out to feel stupid by telling them to “Do some research,” then your marketing has missed the mark, and you have missed the point of marketing altogether. You cannot expect your audience to see your media and know they are supposed to do research. That isn’t their job; IT IS YOURS. Marketing is micro-education. You get a split second to tell your audience what they need to know, and that is it. There is no homework in advertising. If you feel your audience needs to research what you are promoting, then you are failing at promoting if effectively. There is no room for smugness in marketing. If we miss the mark, we go back to the drawing board and try again. It is a job. Don’t take it so personally if someone doesn’t “get it.” The point is to make your audience want what you’re selling. You remember that old saying, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
What can we do to fix this?
We don’t have to scrap the entire campaign. Just tweak the bugs. Remove the individual meme that caused such a stir. Make one graphic that includes multiple quotes from multiple religions, including TST and Christianity. Make this the focal point of the campaign with the other individual quotes as sub-graphics that tie back to the main graphic. This eliminates that possibility of one quote to be taken out of context of the campaign as a whole.
How can we avoid this faux pas in the future?
The LP would do well to employ more oversight in their marketing department. A group of volunteers to be the marketing approval committee will do wonders to streamline our image and make sure that the media we are producing and promoting portray the image that the LP at large intends to in an effective manner. Having more than one set of eyes on any piece of media is just smart business.
10 Facts/Rules of Marketing:
- Perception is reality
- You can’t un-ring a bell
- Never assume your audience will just “Get it.”
- The average person looks at print/web media advertisements for 1.3 seconds, making a snap decision on how that piece will impact them: positively, negatively, or unmoved.
- You don’t get “sidebars” for explaining your intentions
- Be concise.
- Be edgy, but not too edgy.
- Be palatable.
- Simpler is better.
- Mistakes will be made. Own it. Don’t blame the audience for not being able to read your mind if the message is misrepresented. You can always start again.
The key to successful marketing is simply listening to your audience. How about we start reaching out to another target audience that opposes the war we are starting? This is a much wider target audience, chock full of conservatives and liberals!
I feel a “Conscientious Objectors” marketing campaign coming on!
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