The Bible Brand Promise

An advertising executive named Nick approached Christ after the feeding of the 5,000. He came at night as he wasn’t quite sure if Jesus would be a good fit for GC (Great Communications), the leading advertising agency that he worked for.

“It’s great to meet you at last,” said Nick. “You know, you’re quite the talk of the town. You’ve definitely got something special. I heard there were over 5,000 people at today’s gig. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you manage to get such a big crowd?”

“I believe it was word of mouth,” said Jesus.

“What, no media spend?” countered Nick. “Come on, you can tell me. I’m guessing there must have been some advertising. Was it billboards, direct mail, perhaps some undercover fly-posting?

“No, I’m telling you...” said Jesus.

“Oh, wait,” said Nick, as if he hadn’t even heard Jesus. “Maybe some old-fashioned telemarketing, too. I know it’s underrated these days, but it still works; as long as you’ve got a decent list.”

“Really, I can assure you,” said Jesus. But Nick still wasn’t listening.

“I think I’ve got it,” said Nick. “It’s just that I didn’t figure you for being such an on-trend guy. You actually ran a social media campaign, didn’t you? Still, to draw that crowd takes something special.”

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them,” said Jesus.

“So your Father is involved in this business, too? I like it. Father and Son has great family appeal. Look, whatever you did, it worked; you had the whole crowd with you, but at the end of the day, I’m not sure what you said, but many walked away. And that kind of churn rate definitely impacts revenue. Can I be honest with you?”

“Honesty is one of the values that is really important to me,” replied Jesus.

“I think you could be really big,” said Nick. “But the truth is you need a little from the experts.”

“And is that where you come in?” asked Jesus. “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So you’re right, I could always use a little extra help.”

“I thought so,” said Nick. “Let’s not waste any time. I need to ask you some questions, the answers to which will form the basis of my recommendations for a successful marketing strategy. Together, I’m sure we can take the world by storm.”

“Storms are no problem for me,” said Jesus.

“Now, you’ve obviously got quite a following,” said Nick, “but I’m not clear what the main attraction is. People are always interested in the next big thing. Usually, it turns out to be a passing fad, but sometimes we get a game-changer. Which are you?”

“I think you’ll find, I’m the game-changer of game-changers! There’s never been anyone like me before, and no one like me will come after,” said Jesus.

“Love that boldness,” replied Nick. “And that confidence will play very well to the mass media. But I’ll need a short pitch; you know a soundbite to get their interest. Just tell me in one sentence the big idea — your ultimate purpose. Give me your elevator pitch.”

Jesus thought for a moment and looked Nick straight in the eye and said: “You must be born again.”

Nick looked confused. “What? That’s definitely short and sweet but perhaps a little too abstract. Let’s try again, this time with a little more clarity so that absolutely anybody can understand it.”

Jesus didn’t hesitate. “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God, but God shows his love for the world that even while all are sinners, he has sent his Son, to die for everyone.”

“No, no, no! That’s where you’re going wrong,” said Nick. “All this talk of sin and death. Little wonder, they walked away. Don’t you have any other language that’s not quite so off-putting?”

“Try this,” said Jesus: “I came so that everyone can have life, and have it in all its abundance.”

“Abundance? I love it,” said Nick. “Everyone wants abundance. Now you’re on the right track. Oh yes, abundance — that’s a vision anyone can buy into. Okay, we’ve got the vision down, what we need now is a mission statement.”

“Mission statement?” questioned Jesus.

“Yes, we’re going to give them a vision of abundant life,” said Nick, “but how do they get it? What do you want them to do?”

“Nothing,” said Jesus. “They just need to receive it. It’s a gift.”

“Nothing!” exclaimed Nick. “But they must do something. How are we ever going to know who they are if they don’t do something?”

Jesus looked at Nick directly again and said, “They must be born again.”

“Look, I don’t even know what that means,” said Nick. “Let me be more direct. How are we going to get this message to go viral? That’s the mission,” he continued.

“Oh, that’s easy,” said Jesus. “Go into all the world, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to do everything I have told you.”

“I wasn’t expecting that,” said Nick. “All nations, eh? Now you’re thinking like a genuine marketeer. World domination! Take the brand global; I like it. But let’s get real, that’s a big ask for a small, not very well resourced organization.”

“We’ll start in Jerusalem,” said Jesus, “and then Samaria and then…”

“And then to the ends of the earth, eh?” laughed Nick, interrupting Jesus. “You’ve obviously been thinking about this. And I do like clients who are truly invested in their projects, but…”

“Oh, I’m totally invested,” said Jesus. “Nothing in all the universe will stop me from giving everything I have to make this work.”

“Talking of work,” said Nick, “I hope you realize that this branding is no easy task. It takes years of expertise, professional insight, and creativity to formulate an appropriate growth strategy for a start-up brand like this.”

“Yes, thank you,” said Jesus, “I appreciate you making time from your busy schedule just to come and see me. And I’m sure coming at this time of night can only be a sign of your dedication,” continued Jesus.

“Moving on,” said Nick quickly, “we’ve got a lot to get through, and I was wondering if you had given any thought to brand values?”

“As a matter of fact, I have ten which I wrote myself some time ago,” replied Jesus.

“Ten might be pushing it,” said Nick. “Today’s audiences have such short attention spans.”

“So, I suppose you’d like the shortened soundbite version?” asked Jesus.

“I really think you’re beginning to catch on to how marketing works,” replied Nick.

“‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” said Jesus.

Nick hesitated before saying, “That’s good. It really is. Might be a little too authoritarian for the millennials, though. Kids these days, just don’t want to be told what to do.”

Jesus paused for a while before offering, “Do to others, as you would have them do to you.”

“Love it,” said Nick, “the ‘you’ puts them back at the center of things. That should work beautifully. And talking of beauty, I hope you’re going to tell me that you’ve got a beautiful, well-crafted logo by a professional designer?”

“Do I need one?” asked Jesus.

“Of course, you do!” said Nick. “You can’t build a global brand without a recognizable logo. How else will you differentiate yourself from your competitors? And don’t forget the merchandise. It’s not merchandise without a logo. Anyway, we’ve got to monetize this thing, or how else am I going to get paid?”

“In that case, the logo would have to be an old rugged cross,” said Jesus.

“That really doesn’t sound too sexy,” said Nick.

“It’s not sexy at all,” said Jesus, “but it will be a powerful symbol of my imminent sacrificial death in order to bring life to a world of lost sinners.”

“There you go again with your death talk,” sighed Nick. “Is that really necessary?”

“I think you’ll find it goes to the heart of the matter,” said Jesus “but if we’re going to need a logo, then it has to be the cross.”

“Okay okay, I suppose we can work with a cross, if we have to,” said Nick. “I don’t think anyone else is using one. Perhaps I’ll get one of our designers to give it a neon glow. After all, if I’m not mistaken, I think I recall hearing somewhere that you made a claim about being the light of the world.”

“You heard right,” said Jesus.

“You know, this is beginning to sound like a really big project,” said Nick, “like you want to change the world or something.”

“I think you’re catching on,” said Jesus. “Not so much change the world — as save the world,” he continued.

“I’ve been thinking,” said Nick, “the only way this is going to take off is if we get some celebrity brand ambassadors on board.”

“Brand ambassadors?” questioned Jesus.

“Brand ambassadors,” said Nick, “are people who will use their time, talents and influence to promote your brand or message. It’s amazing really, many of them will even do it for free!”

“Interesting you should say that,” said Jesus, “because I’ve actually been training a team of 12 ambassadors as you would call them, and I think they’re nearly ready to get the good news out. I wouldn’t call them celebrities exactly, but I can promise you that soon the world will know who they are.”

“Fantastic,” said Nick, “because we’re nearly ready to launch this brand. Just one more very important issue to deal with. We need a brand promise that will really engage the target audience.”

“Brand promise?” questioned Jesus. “Is that really necessary?”

“Oh, it’s vital,” said, Nick. “Your brand promise tells the world your purpose, and it provides direction for marketing. It goes to the heart of the customer experience. It’s what your brand tells the world to expect from you. Your brand promise is the unique promise of value you make to your target market. It is the essence of what you have to offer. It clarifies and communicates what makes you special — what makes you different from others.”

“Now I can see why you say it’s so important,” admitted Jesus. “It seems this promise has to deliver on huge expectations.”

“The important thing,” said Nick, “is that the brand promise is kept or you’ll lose credibility.”

“Well, we wouldn’t want that,” said Jesus.

Nick continued, “So, it’s got to be authentic. It can’t just be a cute slogan. It’s got to be something real you can deliver, otherwise you won’t retain the trust of the people who you are trying to reach.”

“And all in one short, memorable soundbite, I suppose?” asked Jesus.

“You’re learning fast,” replied Nick.

“Give me a moment,” said Jesus. And with that, he wandered off into the garden, a short distance away and looked up to the heavens as if he was praying. In the meantime, Nick was checking through his Marketing Strategy playbook to make sure he’d covered everything. He was wondering, “Could Jesus be the best client ever? Or was he dealing with a deluded daydreamer? And what would the principals of the firm think?” He would have to get their approval. After all, GC had their reputation to maintain and they only worked with the real thing, blue-chip clients.

Just then, Jesus reappeared and said, “I think I’ve got it. See if this works for you: ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.’”

“Love it!” said Nick. “It clearly identifies the target market. It outlines the problem that needs to be solved, and it gives the solution. You’re really quite good at this; maybe you should come and work for us. I know all the top guys, I could always put a good word in for you.”

“I’ve got a feeling that they’re not really going to be interested,” said Jesus.

“Anyway,” said Nick, “in the meantime, about the message for the T-shirts—”

Jesus put his arms around Nick as he was leaving and whispered in his ear, “You must be born again!”

Mervyn Weir is a UK-based Marketing Consultant and Creative Communications specialist who uses the arts and media to help organizations communicate effectively. He is also a playwright and filmmaker who uses these same skills to share the gospel.

Image courtesy of the author.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9290
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There is an equivalent statement by Jesus to that one which He spoke to Nicodemus.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” John 6:44-45

The genuine hunger and thirst for righteousness and the sincere attempt to love, to truly value SOMEONE RATHER THAN A PAINTING as priceless, are indicative of alacrity in response to the call of God, being born again or the shedding of the sloth of a selfish cocoon to reveal something extraordinarily beautiful in character.

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Wonderful story-telling, Mervyn…good use of mental pictures. Clever way of using the words of Jesus and applying the concepts to how we think now. Thank-you.

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Very well written, Mervyn. What I am about to write is in no way a reflection against you.

This was actually so well written that I felt physically sick for a moment (not at all your fault Mervyn) because it so well hilights how much Christianity has embraced secular marketing to the unfortunate exclusion of the principles of the Kingdom of God. Adventism already had a big problem in that it was about promotion of a product (correct doctrine: 28 of them) and its embracing of marketing over the past couple of decades has only served to reinforce that orientation.

“You need to be born again.” Well said, Mervyn. Process, not product. This is what Christianity has to offer, no strings attached, no hidden agenda, no advancement of a bottom line for the ‘organisation’.

The Brand Promise being adopted by the Adventist church: “We can help you understand the Bible to find freedom, healing and hope in Jesus.

How can Adventism do this when, like the dominant proportion of Christianity, it too teaches that God’s ways are no higher than our ways; that God’s laws operate no differently than human laws; that salvation is a forensic process no different to our human legal system; and that at the end of the day, God will destroy those who choose against Him? This view of God that is allegedly backed by the Bible is supposed to inspire people with a sense of freedom, healing and hope? Most non-churched/ex-churched people I interact with already have precisely this view of God. ‘Fear God and/or despise Him’ would pretty much describe how most people feel towards God as a consequence of this very portrayal of His nature and character and the nature and character of ‘salvation’.

As one of Adventism’s early pioneers knew all too well, it is actually the Kingdom of Darkness that has done an incredibly successful marketing/smear campaign against God. How successful? The dominant majority of Christianity has embraced as ‘truth’ the swapping out of God’s true nature and character and has instead swallowed, hook-line-and-sinker, a view of God that actually represents the nature and character of Satan.

Too strong a claim? Note Jesus own words in John 10:10. To whose domain is destruction exclusively attributed? Note carefully Rom 1:24, 26, 28 that unpacks “God’s wrath” (v18). No destruction being caused by God there either. Note carefully Jn 3:16, 17 and 2 Pet 3:9 the use of the word “perish”. Why use perish rather than the phrase ‘cause God to have to destroy them’? Note Rom 6:23 where death is specifically mentioned as the “wages” of sin as opposed to the punishment or penalty for?

These are only a few examples of a much wider body of Biblical evidence that supports a completely, radically different view of God’s nature and character that actually is Good News that brings freedom, healing and hope just like Jesus mentioned when quoting from Isa 61.

But what about all the references in the bible to God punishing and destroying, etc - even in Isa 61:2? Two dimensions need to be understoood. Firstly, sometimes this language is due to Bible writers still being influenced by the influences of pagan religion as per Satan’s all too effective marketing campaign. I would propose that this is a part of why Jesus Himself entered humanity at the point in time that He did because He spent a lot of time attempting to redress the misconception of the nature and character of God (and wider reality) that was persisting.

Secondly, if you look at the original languages of the Bible, there is typically an array of interpretation options that an original language word can represent. Within that range of valid options, there actually is legitimate and consistent support for a very different view of the nature and character of God whose ways actually are higher than (Isa 55:9) the more prominent typical portrayal of God’s ways (as essentially no different to our human ways). Why did Bible translators not choose this alternative view? Could these interpreters having taken studies that typically incorporated human legal systems have had an unconscious influence upon their choice of interpretation option?

And if you still think I am barking up a wrong tree, stop and ask yourself this question: What do I fear/believe will be lost if it is sin itself that will cause the destruction of the non-saved rather than God? Quite possibly your answer will have something to do with feeling that ‘it wouldn’t be fair’, that ‘justice’ has somehow not been served and the non-saved got off too lightly. Could it be that we actually want a God who operates no higher than our ways and that Satan has sold us exactly what we desire?

Have I gone way off topic, or have I hit at the heart of an issue of immediate relevance? You be the ‘judge’…

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Beautiful, ironic put down! Thank you for telling it like it is

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Mervyn –
Love this contemporary look at John 3 and the attempt by the Establishment
to “control” this religious maverick of that time.
Jesus was SCARY! The friends at Nazareth became so Frightened and Scared
they tried to rush Jesus out of town – FOR GOOD – over the town’s cliff to the
rocks below.
John was noisy, loud, dressed in funny clothes and threatened with God’s wrath.
But provided a way back to God. So they tolerated him.
Jesus could be SCARY! Telling Demons to leave. Healing the incurable. Touching
dead people and they start walking around, talking, eating again.
Then Jesus “rewrote” some of the words of the greatest of prophets – Moses.

Have printed it off to give to friends and to an Episcopalian pastor friend of mine.
Are we still attempting to allow Nick control HOW we present Jesus? To water down
His message and His personage?
Does the Seventh day Adventist Denomination have anything being presented to our
local communities that would make them ask – “WE would see Jesus!!”

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This is something a friend put me onto. That the absence of God is death. The presence of God is life…His ‘strange act’? That He will absent Himself from those who have not chosen His presence…to allow sin to take it’s course - the wages of sin is death.

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I absolutely agree with what you have outlined. I haven’t come across many people yet who understand this concept. However there is consistent support for this view across the Bible both conceptually and textually in the original languages.

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In the Conservative Jewish Book of Common Prayer in one of the Friday night
Psalms it translates into English God’s enemies will “Disintegrate”.
All our atoms are held together by God’s power.
Perhaps all God has to do is “withhold His power” and POOF!!! All the atoms
of an individual go to gasses, or calcium, magnesium powder on the ground.
Anyway, you bring up an interesting idea.

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I note that Jesus in Jn 10:10 ascribes Life exclusively to the Kingdom of God and steal, kill and destroy (ie, all that pertains to death and the initiation of destruction) exclusively to the Kingdom of Darkness.

A God who is the source of, or who initiates, destruction is at odds with Jesus statement.

But a God who is exclusively the initiator and sustainer of Life, and who will nevertheless supports the free-will choice of those who want to opt-out of being part of the Kingdom of God (by letting such people go the way that disconnects from Life), is entirely consistent with Jn 10:10.

Thus, God does not even need to withhold His power as much as to let us exercise our choice to disconnect from His power that holds everything together - and then we destruct as a natural consequence of our disconnection from that which would otherwise keep us holding together.

Then we don’t have this bizzare/irrational disconnect between a God who is love and gives free choice to His creation, yet will destroy you in the end if you don’t choose His way.

There is much scriptural and rational/logical support for the conservative Jewish translation.

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Imagining how to take God off the hook regarding the death of those whom we hope will not be eternally with us feels compelling. Fritz Guy looks beyond death, with his article: How Inclusive is our Hope?

Most I’ve spoken with about so-called universalism are repulsed by the possibility that a Hitler or a Pol Pot or a Stalin may qualify for heaven … as though heaven is something we qualify for.

The death of the wicked seems not so much a challenge as a comfort, oddly. What if the end of death is that no one remains dead, but all are eternally alive in Christ.

What if Christ as Creator is the ultimate counter explanation to wide-spread belief in spiritual evolution requiring vast iterations of humanity in order that there be sufficient rolls of the spiritual dice that there will exist enough ‘keepers’ to populate eternity?

What if our hope becomes more inclusive? Fully inclusive?

What if hope is all we have?

And if so, why not hope for the world … after all, God so love the world that God sent Jesus to save the world. He sent Jesus not to condemn the world, but to save the world. And what if Jesus actually did save the world as surely as he created the world?

I’m so hopeful!

And hope is not a roll of the dice, but is trust. And why trust?

Is there any choice?

Does not the everlasting gospel of Rev 14 affirm that humanity will face the hour of God’s judgement (God’s setting to rights the crated universe) by clearly sensing that they exist beyond what their cortex can fathom and will forever communicate with God instinctually … fearing, glorifying, and worshiping.

Why wait?

Ah. Babylon has us all wrapped in its confusion the second of three angels affirms for now. So we still take comfort in imagining that we can find ways most will never find that bring a few of us eternal life. And the amazing thing is that we take comfort in this Christian tradition … what else gives our lives meaning? … we are desperate for meaning in our lives it seems.

No wonder … we must be born again …

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@Phil1; @niteguy2 @LynneDe

There is so much to unpack here. The God who tell us, that we need to forgive 70X7 (indefinitely) Himself, comes to a point where He can’t take it any more, and calls for the judgement? It makes no sense.

I think we minimize “sin” and what it actually means. We have watered it down to behaviour, rather than an inherited disease, we all have. Religion has built a “safe house” that’s supposed to give us salvation if we obey the rules as defined by the group. The only way to survive the disease is TO BE BORN AGAIN, with our spiritual genes changed. When that new birth doesn’t happen, we make more rules - make the club more exclusive in hopes that salvation is “in the details”.

All the scoundrels in this world were once innocent children; and were molded by their sin-filled world. Looking at their lives, there is no wonder that they ended up so messed up. They didn’t have much choice. But then, it isn’t about how bad our behaviour is. It’s about the disease, and being “born” out of it.

No matter how bad people are, at their core, all want to live in peace and purity. They just don’t know how. I guess the mission Jesus laid upon us, is to tell them, and trust that the Spirit reaches deep enough to make a difference. How we see ourselves, determines who we become. The mistake we make is that we have come to think that because we have that mission, it makes us better than “they”. When approached with this air of superiority we deny the message.

Great thought…love your input.

Your key points are valid and an air of superiority is not appropriate.

At the same time, unfortunately there are a proportion of people who at their core actually do not want to live in peace and purity. They actually enjoy causing pain and suffering to others. The Biblical term is that their hearts have become hardened against purity and for evil. People don’t like to admit or acknowledge this, but unfortunately it is true. I wish it wasn’t, but it is.

How ever that happens, in this scenario, it’s still God moving away … I would think it’s more about us moving away from the source of life - if that’s even possible.

We’re dealing with things we know nothing about, except what we’re told in the Bible, in the very simplest terms. Now that we know about quantum physics etc. lot’s of possibilities are possible; but, again, we only scratch the surface.

One of the concepts that’s very difficult for both theologians and marketing professionals to understand is a concept of continuum between natural and “commercial”. We tend to split these into separate categories, and the very fact of us doing so end up setting up different moral premises that apply to these spheres (… It’s not personal, it just business, etc).

But, the fact of the matter is that marketing is merely a mechanism by which market communication works as we humans talk to each other about different things that we do and like.

What Jesus was doing is no less of a marketing approach than what modern corporations do. The difference is in compartmentalized morality that we apply to different aspects of these communications. We see corporate marketing as unfit for religion mainly because we associate it with certain problematic morality or lack of it when it comes to communicating benefits.

Yet, churches often do the same thing with religion. How many times have you heard “I will open the floodgates of heaven” before offering appeals? How many times have you heard all of the personal testimonies paraded from the front.

How many times have you watched the sterilized “Mission spotlight” videos that only show what you may find appealing?

How many times your local sermons revolve around emotional hooks and anecdotal stories that try to establish an idea?

We should cut down on misleading marketing approach. But it doesn’t mean that we avoid marketing that’s viable and finds people where they are today. And a lot of them are online. And churches approach to online is very poor.

Most of the pastors I hear learned to appreciate the sound of their own voice than the needs of people who they are addressing, and that’s something they can really glean from “secual marketing”. It’s not and shouldn’t about them or their preferences.

Churches could benefit from running a few focus groups before they spend 10s of thousands on printing and sending leaflets with magical beasts and giant Jesus creepily hovering over an Earth.

If there’s one reason why God wouldn’t be born incarnate in this day and age is precisely because there’s too much noise that people like you and I help to generate.

Marketing is all about grabbing and retaining attention, and then anchoring attention to some sense of wellbeing that results in eventual trust and loyalty. It’s not problematic if we don’t end up using elisit tactics to manipulate people to accept something that they wouldn’t accepted if we given them the full picture. If the product that one sells contributes to one’s wellbeing, then marketing is merely communicating the benefits.

Again, it’s not anything different than Jesus was doing. He gained attention using miracles. He gained trust by caring. And then shared information.

The problem that we have today in theology circles that I try to unsuccessfully advice (disclaimer…I am a marketing company CEO) is the idea that in modern culture we are not competing for “market share”. We are competing for attention, perception, and loyalty.

As such “you must be born again” is a cart before the horse. People need to hear and understand the message and value. And before they do that, they need to pay attention, which today is monopolized by vast amount of activities that various companies spend enormous amount of effort to anchor and maintain as valuable.

If we are to merely believe in “mystical” and “magical” version of Christianity which negates our responsibility to be the carriers of the spirit of God, which is the message in form of the word spoken, properly understood, and then acted upon … Then perhaps we should keep on do exactly what present-day church is doing. Come together for a few hours on Saturday, and then pray that God will magically bring people to our doors by essentially and likewise magically “triggering their brain neurons” and thus manipulating their will.

OR

We get off our butts, and do some marketing :slight_smile: , give people an option to choose another way of life.

Some of the Locals do do marketing when having Evangelistic Meetings.
But it is of the type that is of no interest to the “common” Sunday keeper
or the non-churched person.

“WE would see Jesus!”
“Will the REAL Jesus please stand up!”
This is what the common man and woman on the streets want to hear about!

As a marketing CEO, are you saying that (a) marketing exists solely to inform consumers by providing them with ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ so that consumers can make an truth-informed choices and that (b) the provision of this ‘service’ by corporate organisations and marketing agencies is motivated by pure beneficence/self-renouncing love?

If this is actually the case, then I would agree with you that “what Jesus was doing is no less of a marketing approach than what modern corporations do”.

Conversely, unless this is the case, then I would propose that what Jesus was doing was on an entirely different continuum altogether (Isa 55:9) to the one you have cited.

What you have said is true. But isn’t there more to the story. What is the bottom-line reason for wanting to develop (Brand) trust and loyalty? And what is the basis upon which trust and loyalty are established?