January 10, 2007

A Christian Owned and Operated Business

Louisiana Baptist University at Shreveport IMG 0927.JPG
"Louisiana Baptist University at Shreveport IMG 0927" by Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Magnus Manske using CommonsHelper. (Original text : I took photo on May 27, 2009. Billy Hathorn (talk) 14:42, 31 May 2009 (UTC)). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I just saw a cable TV commercial for a local company that provides RV sales and service. The ad mentioned that this company was "a Christian owned and operated business." In fact, this phrase was evidently so important to the company that it was used twice - once at the beginning and again at the end of the 30 second ad.

My first thought - at least my first non-profane thought - was "only in the South." But I then remembered that the American bible belt is not confined to the South. Now I am wondering whether this sort of advertising strategy could be more common that I realize even outside traditional bible belt. Have you experienced anything like this in your area?

I see three possible reasons a company would flaunt their Christianity in this manner, and I suspect all three may apply in many cases. First, the company might view this as an effective marketing strategy. I am not saying that the owners aren't actually Christians (in fact, I'd be surprised if any businesses in my area weren't owned by Christians) but that this is a deliberate attempt to market themselves to Christians. Second, the owners could be doing this less as a marketing strategy and more as a method of proselytizing. In other words, sharing their "good news" with the TV audience may be even more important to them than attracting Christian customers. Third, the owners may view their ad as a coded message about their ethics. That is, "a Christian owned and operated business" may communicate to believers and non-believers alike that the owners of this company adhere to the highest ethical standards in their business practices. After all, Christianity is widely (and mistakenly) thought to be the source of Western morality (for more on the topic of morality, see Goosing the Antithesis and Atheist Ethicist).

I would love to see some research on whether flaunting one's Christianity was an effective method of advertising a business. The study would involve two commercials, identical in every way, except one would add mention of the Christian ownership. Then we'd compare how viewers rated the company and actual sales. If you are aware of anything like this having been done, please let me know.