Jesus understands us all. Do you agree? An ad campaign aims to prove that all people can relate to Jesus since He himself experienced the problems we are facing today.
He Gets Us is a nationwide campaign that rebrands Jesus in a striking and unconventional way. Launched this March, it is believed to be the largest and one of the most expensive Christian advertising ever created for TV, online, radio, and billboards. Organizers disclosed that a group of Christian donors granted the $100 million budget for the campaign, according to Christianity Today.
The team behind He Gets Us completed a 10-market, $10 million advertising test over the last few months targeting skeptics and they were surprised with the result. The first series of ads on Youtube got 32 million views in 10 weeks and nearly half a million visited the He Gets Us website.
This culture is immersed in media, and we’re using media to reach them for Christ. —Bill McKendry, founder of Haven
Michigan-based agency Haven created the video ads focusing on Jesus’ human experience hoping to give the audience a relatable figure. The black and white videos highlight the experiences of people today which are similar to the events in Jesus’ life, the challenges He faced.
In the video Wrongly Judged, a group of young people who looked like gang members were prowling the streets but it turned out they were bringing food to the homeless.
It’s easy for people to judge others without knowing the real story. Jesus was wrongly judged, too. He was hated for the Good News He was preaching even religious leaders at that time ridiculed Him.
The video ends with the tagline, “He gets us. All of us.” with the word “us” in yellow. The two sentences come together and spell out “Jesus” with the letters “U” and “S” remaining in yellow.
The ad series make parallelisms to what Jesus endured on earth that like us, He also did not lead a perfect life—He suffered anxiety, He knew loneliness, and He even was in broken relationships.
Viewers are directed to the He Gets Us website where they can choose four ways to engage: live chat, text for prayer and positive messages, join a small group, or subscribe to a Bible reading plan.
He Gets Us responds to questions, including difficult ones, and replies to comments and other needs coursed through its website. At the end of each interaction, guests are referred to volunteers and church partners to continue the conversation, reports Christian website Church Leaders.
In a press release, Bill McKendry, founder of Haven, said, “He Gets Us is disrupting misconceptions by pointing out how Jesus identified with the marginalized, how he didn’t favor the powerful, how he often offended the religious by associating with social outcasts, how he was wholly disinterested in political power as a means of furthering his movement, and how he actively challenged systems of oppression even though he knew it would cost him his life.”
The campaign targets millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, and Gen Z, born from 1997 onward, because various studies suggest many young people are leaving Christianity. According to Haven’s market research, over half of American adults are religious skeptics or cultural Christians—people who adhere to certain aspects of Christianity and don’t have an active relationship with Jesus.
McKendry explained the company is creating ads that will effectively communicate with today’s audience. “[Jesus] crafted his language and his storytelling to resonate with people. He told agricultural stories to farmers. He told fish stories to fishermen,” he said. “This culture is immersed in media, and we’re using media to reach them for Christ.”
Hundreds of churches have signed up to help people who filled out connect forms on the He Gets Us website. That’s another advantage of the initiative, it is all-inclusive. There are no religious criteria to join the campaign. Any church that believes in Jesus can support He Gets Us.
“We hope that all churches that are aligned with the He Gets Us campaign will participate,” said Jason Vanderground, president at Haven. “This includes multiple denominational and nondenominational church affiliations, Catholic and Protestant, churches of various sizes, ethnicities, languages, and geography…ultimately, the goal is inspiration, not recruitment or conversion.”
Vanderground added, “This initiative is designed simply to remind Americans that, no matter what they believe, no matter what religious beliefs they hold — or don’t — Jesus’ life and experiences can serve as inspiration as they navigate their own situations.”
While He Gets Us has intrigued and connected skeptics to the church, some Christians are doubtful of the team’s marketing style. They said Jesus is being packaged as a consumer product and the ads don’t really reflect His full glory and omnipotence.
Reading the comment section on the He Gets Us Youtube channel, many viewers found the videos blasphemous, insulting and misleading. For example, in Jesus Was Born To a Teen Mom, the first video released last year, many commenters claimed the video seems to be supporting teen pregnancy and premarital sex.
However, the team behind He Gets Us is confident that they’re on the right track since they have a strong brand and that is Jesus.
Have you seen a He Gets Us video ad? What do you think?