Most of the “creatives” I know work in marketing. They make commercials, write ad campaigns, do market research – anything they can think of to overcome buyer resistance and to make their product more attractive. Their job is to come up with clever ways to get customers to buy things. I used to consult with pharmaceutical companies, an industry that spends hugely on R&D for creating new products. Still, even in that industry marketing outspends R&D 4 to 1.
The Jesuits used strong-arm evangelization tactics, figuring it was in the heathens’ and the heretics’ best interests to suffer a little earthly torment if it meant avoiding eternal damnation. The softer sell probably began with the Wesleys. Man’s will is corrupt but man can choose; God’s grace is available to all but grace can be resisted. What’s needed are methods: methods for overcoming resistance to grace, methods for highlighting the advantages of the faith to potential converts, methods for strengthening the will to choose and to persevere. Isn’t that a pretty good description of marketing – overcoming resistance, spotlighting how the product benefits the customer, strengthening the decision to buy, maintaining brand loyalty?
The Methodists and their Arminian fellow travelers have done particularly well in America. You have to wonder: is corporate marketing a secularized version of Methodism, or is evangelism a Christianized version of modern capitalism? And what of it? Is there anything wrong with investing creative resources in overcoming buyer resistance and wrapping the product in attractive packaging? Besides, what are the alternatives?