Losing sight of the cross

The American Spectator

A pretty damning portrait of the operations of Evangelical Lutheran Church of America congregations by someone who worked in the office of one such church.

I’m thankful that my LCMS church is so focuses on the cross and the atonement Christ purchased by suffering on it. There’s no touchy-feely “Jesus is your pal” stuff – this is sin and damnation talk pretty much every Sunday. And it’s not to make people feel bad, but to help them rejoice in the salvation that they now have.

The ELCA seems much more interested in being popular than in being a conduit to Christ and being popular is not the job of the church. It doesn’t matter if you have thousands of people attending a mega-church somewhere. If you’re not coming to Christ humbly you’re not coming to His Father at all.

Quick Takes: 8/22/07

  • filmstrip.jpgAngela at AdRants is talking about an extremely annoying online ad for the DVD release of Wild Hogs. The ad apparently interrupted her surfing by expanding and not closing back up and launching a new window when she pressed the “Close” button. Plus the game is all about poop, so it’s more than a tad irritating.
  • John is extremely displeased with the “unrated” DVD trend. His main gripe seems to be that these versions are marketed as being so much more raunchy/sexy/gory than the originals when they actually wind up being almost indistinguishable. Remember – “unrated” only means that cut hasn’t been rated. It’s not like it was kept on the shelf for the public good or anything.
  • There’s a longer post here, but Anne is bemoaning the plethora of social networks and other such sites that are out there right now, some of which she pays attention to and some of which are getting ignored. I think all of us in the online space go through this feeling from time to time.
  • Scott is talking about how Rave Motion Pictures is claiming to be the first chain to put digital projectors in all their booths. He also has a great piece up at Variety on how a company called Building B is creating some sort of super-secret set-top box that combines regular TV viewing, VOD, a DVR, internet access and more into one module.
  • Piaras Kelly says bad weather is probably a large part of why Irish cinema admissions were up in July. He also says that soaring ticket prices and an almost constant barrage of advertising in the theater has the potential to turn off moviegoers completely.

CondéNet partners with indie distributor for in-theater ads

conde-nast.JPGThis is kind of unique. CondeNet, the interactive arm of Conde Nast, has partnered with independent distributor Emerging Pictures for pre-show ads. Original programming that’s been created for some of CN’s lifestyle sites will precede the Emerging Pictures film. Those snippets will themselves contain brief ad spots. The first advertiser to sign on is Ray Ban.

CN is using the tactic to get in front of the independent film audience, which it (and others) see as more hip and upscale. It also adds another touchpoint it can sell to advertisers and, it’s hoped, build some interest in the CN video content. Advertisers will be able to target their spots by geography and genre.

It’s interesting since this takes the presentation of ads out of the hands of the exhibitor for, it seems, the first time. The ads that are embedded in the CN content aren’t being sold by the theater, but by the publisher, with the theater reduced to the role of free distribution outlet. I’d be curious to see if the theaters that run Emerging Pictures films under this program start pushing back based on just that point.

“That word you keep using. I do not think it means what I think you think it means.”

Dear writers and editors for mainstream news publications,

Please do not label something as “viral” simply because it mentioned on a couple blogs. “Viral” should be a term we use sparingly for those instances when something gets passed around with little to no help from the marketing department. Very few of the examples in this article that are actual ad campaigns would get that designation. Things like Will it Blend? and the “Flagpole Sitta” agency video? Yes. Brawny Academy? No.

–Chris Thilk

“Promise me son, not to do the things I done…”

It’s kind of interesting to me that there’s a story in Brandweek today about how advertisers are slowly building momentum on Facebook. It’s interesting because it comes one day after I noticed, while writing up a post for my personal blog, that Sony Pictures had indeed discovered Facebook as a marketing tool.

A button on the official website for their new flick Across the Universe allows you to add the movie’s trailer to your profile with just a couple simply clicks. It’s really the first time I’ve seen Facebook integrated in such a way into a movie’s campaign.

MySpace, on the other hand, has become lousy with profiles related to new movies, most of which don’t add any value to the user. They’re mostly made up of content that’s just been repurposed from the official site.

I really hope that Facebook learns the lessons of MySpace and – at the very least – makes new mistakes as they progress. Right now I’m seeing value in Facebook that I never really saw in MySpace, even if I still don’t use it very much. Yes, there will be eventual burnout, but it can still be something that works with the community there instead of working against it.

Full vs. partial Freakonomics

The full- versus partial-text RSS feed debate has been one that has simmered in the background of the online world for years now, occasionally flaring as people decide to make known that they’re unsubscribing to X site because it’s a partial feed or whatnot. The passions on this issue usually run high and everyone believes they have the key to understanding why the other side is wrong.

I bring this up because of the recent switch from full to partial feeds on the Freakonomics blog following its partnership with the New York Times. The blog is now hosted on the NYTimes site and many readers have apparently voiced their criticism of the switch rather loudly. The authors have tried to explain what happened a couple times but now author Stephen J. Dubner has written what may be the best rationalization of partial feed publishing to date.

Dubner explains that advertising is sold on the NYTimes site based on page views. So putting out full-content feeds would cut into page views, thereby decreasing the paper’s ad revenue, thereby decreasing the pot of money that the Freakonomics crew gets a small cut of. He states this is not selling out – that the content is still free – you just need to come to the NYTimes site to read it. Yes, the paper could sell ads in the full feed but they chose not to based on their own comfort level as well as that of their advertisers. In the end Dubner says the resources they now have access to at the NYT are valuable enough to them that they feel the partial feed decision is worth it.

It is, as Dubner says, up to the reader to decide whether they’re willing to pay the cost, the exposure to advertising, to read their content. If not that’s up to them. Whatever each individual’s decision might be I think Dubner and the team there is to be commended for providing such a logical and compelling explanation of their thinking to their readers.