New York ad agency selected for UCC campaign

New York ad agency selected for UCC campaign

September 30, 2003
Written by Staff Reports

Manhattan-based firm to offer services 'at cost'

A prestigious advertising firm - expressing a willingness to manage the UCC's identity campaign at cost - has been selected by the UCC's Proclamation, Identity and Communication Ministry (PIC) to lead the denomination in its effort to increase name recognition in U.S. households.

Building on the success of the UCC's initial "God is still speaking," campaign, which to date has been coordinated in-house, Gotham Inc., a New York-based firm with $783 million in 2002 billings, will help market the church's strengths and vision, says the Rev. Robert Chase, PIC's team leader.

The firm's generous at-cost offer stems from a belief among company executives that the UCC has a unique and important message to share with the world, he says.

Church leaders were surprised and elated, says Ron Buford, the UCC's public relations and marketing manager, when Gotham's entire leadership team assembled on June 9 to pitch their "at cost" offer to the denomination. Church leaders initially met with Gotham, as well as two other major ad firms, on March 28. But after the company had time to research the UCC's history and its contemporary commitments, Gotham approached the UCC with its offer.

Chase says the at-cost arrangement was predicated by three significant factors. First, he says, the UCC has demonstrated excellence and professionalism in its current "God is still speaking," campaign. Second, Gotham is a successful company with a commitment to "giving something back, and the UCC is going to be the beneficiary of that generosity." And third, he says, "They were moved, impressed, struck by our emphasis on radical welcome and justice."

Gotham specializes in building brand loyalty, something desperately needed, Buford says, if the UCC is to be distinguishable in the U.S. religious landscape.

Gotham's high-profile clients include Bank of America, L'Oreal, Liz Claiborne, Johnson and Johnson, Bristol- Myers Squibb, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, AT&T Wireless and "Newman's Own" salad dressings and pasta sauces.

The firm's not-for-profit clients include the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Gotham's executives said that the time is right for the UCC "because the church's message speaks to an audience of ready prospects."

In a report given to church leaders, Gotham summed up the UCC as having a "personality" that is "reflective of Christ's—open, embracing, nurturing, and eternally relevant."

"We were astounded when they were right on target about who we want to be," Chase says.

Discussions about the ramped-up "God is still speaking" campaign are still taking place, including decisions about the extent, scope and timing of the national advertising campaign. Financing arrangements still must be finalized for the purchase of print ads and television/radio commercials.

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