Jesus in an ultrasound scan
Posted on 16 December 2010, 0:05
One of the groups I’m really pleased to be involved in is ChurchAds.net, which every year produces an advertising campaign for churches to opt into at Christmas. Our most famous campaign was Meek. Mild. As if, which featured an image of Jesus in the style of the photo of Che Guevara by Alberto Korda, which ran in Easter 1999.
This year’s campaign is now hitting the streets in the UK, with a new image of Jesus (above) that I’m sure hasn’t been seen before in 2,000 years of image-making. I talked to Chas Bayfield, one of the creatives behind the ad, who’s previously created ads for Tango, Birdseye and Pot Noodle – see his knockout Blackcurrant Tango ad, which won a D&AD silver award.
Simon: How did you come up with the idea?
Chas: We needed a new way of telling the Christmas story, something that was more 21st century than 19th. Baby scans are a contemporary way of telling others about the good news of an impending birth. So why not use a baby scan of the Christ child to announce the impending celebration of his birth?
No one’s tried to depict Jesus in the womb before… why did you go for this image, and what do you think it says about Jesus and Christmas?
We’ve seen Christ the infant, Christ the man, Christ crucified – but this is a new image, a pre-Christ. It says that the divine became human. It reminds people that we are celebrating the birth of a new world order where peace, justice, equality and love arrived on the world agenda.
How have people responded to the ads so far?
Generally the poster has been welcomed. We’ve had a huge uptake from the churches and there has been lots of positive press coverage. However, some of the press are concerned that we are tampering with the sacred and that if we modernise the message too much we make the original unrecognisable. Vanessa Feltz described it as ‘Benetton-esque’ in that it was all a bit too intimate and bodily. It seems that some people are happy to watch the gorefest of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, yet they find the physical birth of Jesus too confronting to contemplate.
Thinking about this image and the Meek. Mild. As if image, what’s your purpose in showing Jesus in such non-traditional ways?
The human Jesus was an historical figure and there’s a danger that we use traditional iconography to imprison him in the past. The risen Christ however is contemporary. That’s why the rennaissance painters portrayed Christ and his followers in the fashions of the day and why the 19th century Christ looked more Victorian. The images we have used will date over time, but the plan is to constantly remind people that Christ and his message are relevant whatever time you are living in.
Ideally, what do you hope the ad achieves?
It is already achieving it – we are getting people talking about Jesus at Christmas. Job done. Box ticked. The bigger picture is that the unchurched see Jesus and the Christian message as something that might be relevant to them and that the churches realise there is an alternative way to winning souls than bashing them over the head with Bibles.
Note: To support the campaign and increase the number of posters which appear, go here on the ChurchAds.net website.