urging Catholics to come home

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“… get back in the game.” – Lou Holtz for Catholic Come Home campaign


Oh my.

I was getting my fill of football action on TV and … ‘holy mackerel!’ … a mush mouthed Lou Holtz starts telling me I should go back to church <or better said … in his words … ‘get back in the game’>.


Catholic Come Home Lou Holtz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcMGJmB5D84


The campaign is called “Catholic come Home” and in my world <consumer attitudes & behavior> this is a ‘lapsed customer’ strategy as in ‘I used to attend church but now I am a lazy ass and play tennis instead.’


And they have tried it before:

Catholic Come Home 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvA29P1U7OU


I am not going to take the Catholics to task for doing this because … in fact … in 2009 I actually wrote something that suggested they needed to do something like this <in combination with some internal organizational actions>.




I am going to suggest they can do a shitload better than this.

And I will even define ‘better’ because the execution is horrendously trite and how the message is communicated <the words themselves> will only appeal to those who are already parking their happy asses on the pew.


But where I begin is with my main gripe.

Why is it that something as important as this doesn’t get some good expert advice and work?


With that gripe I will begin by skewering the attempt.

This Lou Holtz fake locker room pep talk is the newest “evangomercial” <I did not make up that term> from Catholics Come Home.

It intended to “inspire, educate and evangelize inactive Catholics and others, and invite them to live a deeper faith in Jesus Christ.”


I love that message. I love the direction. I love they actually incorporated a strong call to action <stronger than simply ‘inviting’>.

I love that someone actually decided to try this.

But. How the message is communicated? This fake locker room pep talk?

One word.


Lou  says:

catholics tv ad“for victory in life we’ve got to keep focused on the goal, and the goal is heaven.”


“And when we fumble due to sin — and it’s gonna happen — confession puts us back on the field.”


“So if you haven’t been going to mass weekly, get back in the game … we’re saving your seat on the starting bench this Sunday.”


Holy cow.

You cannot make this stuff up. This is the kind of garbage I would see an unskilled aspiring advertising young person put in their journal as a first draft. And then scratch out as a first draft garbage attempt. Or this is some person who is sitting at home saying “hey, I can do that advertising stuff as well as any of those guys getting paid the big bucks!” <as they scratch their millionth lottery scratch card thinking ‘why shouldn’t I be a millionaire too?’>.


That script. Who the hell talks like that? <very few … maybe an evangelist … maybe a church attending believer … uh oh … but none of the ‘lapsed customers’>


The execution.

Who the hell would actually think this was a good use of Lou Holtz?

I would never use Lou as a spokesperson anyway <because he slurs instead of states> but say I actually did have the opportunity to use such a famous <and semi respected> spokesperson. Well. I certainly would seek to maximize his speaking skills <which would minimize long dialogue> and I would certainly seek to maximize respect & trust quotient <translation … I wouldn’t put him in a fake scenario and ask him to do a fake speech>.

For god’s sake <pun intended> … let the man speak from his heart. He used to be a coach but is no longer one. And everyone <who matters> knows that. But … he is, and has always been, a catholic & Christian. I don’t need any borrowed interest here. In fact borrowed interest makes it trite & almost silly.

<note: this topic is not silly>


What happened? <and I don’t even have to guess this time>


Note: Here is where I go directly to hell <without passing Go>.


Catholics Come Home President Tom Peterson  said … “The Holy Spirit inspired me to write this script more than a year ago … by God’s grace I ran into coach Holtz last July in the Los Angeles Airport, inviting him to star in this evangomercial. So you can understand why I’m confident that God is watching over us and has a wonderful plan in store!”


God is omnipotent and omniscient … therefore … he is aware of all the good and bad advertising out there <I believe He can watch all 285 channels on TV at exactly the same time> … and I do not believe this advertising was the plan He had in store for the Catholics.


Tell me that God isn’t an advertising hack.


I absolutely believe this is something the Catholic Church <or Christianity in general> should be doing. It’s important for the church to think like a consumer business in order to evangelize <gain/regain customers> and defend itself <retain customers>.

I agree with what the organization says on their own website … “So many ask: Where are the Catholics? With so many fallen-away Catholics, why don’t we use the mass media to help our fellow Catholics return to Jesus and his church?” <and I could quote numerous numbers from recent PewResearch to support the depth of the challenge but this post is long enough>

Here is what I said in a ‘wayback post’.

Currently Christianity is mush and its extremists are uncoordinated and verbally inept in the PR department. Islamic moderates are silent and Islam extremists are vocal (coordinated as a group, clear in its communications and beliefs – regardless of how wacky they may be — and they have the PR game down).

Success will be dictated by coordination & focus … and tell it to us straight.

If I could sit Tom down … or any Christian leader for that matter … I would suggest that they remember the strategic decision they made.

First and foremost they said “return.”

This is a lapsed customer. Most likely this customer is not extremely dissatisfied <as in they hate the product> … they still love the product <God in this case> … they just have doubts <about the manufacturer>.

My guess is that despite the fact many church going Catholics are embarrassed by this commercial … most of those same people hang on every word and say “amen” <that is ‘right on’ in non-Catholic street language>  to the words themselves.

And you know what? If they were the target maybe this would be an okay commercial.

But they ain’t the target … and I bet I get 100 emails from some grumpy Catholics and I promise you I will send a short message saying exactly that.

Good words for a current church going customer.

Bad words for a lapsed <one we would like to ‘come home’> customer.

What would be good words?

Remind people how they feel when they ‘come home.’

Don’t tell them they will go to hell if they don’t go home <because … I hate to tell Tom and everyone else who worked on this ad … but by telling everyone that the path to heaven is the Catholic home then the obvious conclusion is that I am going to hell if I don’t go home>.

Tell them about Hope.

Tell them about comfort.

Tell them about grace <in life>.


I have said this before, will say it again … and will say it all to any Christian willing to listen:


Three thoughts in taking steps to getting Christianity <and Catholicism as a subset> back on track:


1. Get Organized. Remember. It is called organized religion not organization religion. Get organized but don’t let organizations get in the way.

  • Organized idea 1: Get the different Christian perspectives together and gain alignment. Be organized and focused on the core aspects. This includes picking the objectives, the people target tied to each objective and the message and stay focused and go do it.
  • Organized idea 2: Ralph Nader just published an interesting book “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”highlighting a thought that the way to create change was to have the most successful business leaders gather together and lead the change America needs. Why can’t Christian/Catholic non-church tied business leaders do the same?


2. Create construct. Cut contradictions. Focus on the core aspects and create a construct for people to simplify, focus and understand. I understand religion has “dimensions” but on core aspects there should be no contradictions within Christian belief. If there are “rules of the road” then set them up. Be clear. For example, “You can do this but you cannot do this.” You know what I mean. If the “organized group” cannot agree on this construct then how the heck do you think the general public will be able to agree with anything?

Now.hope holding hands2

This doesn’t mean this should all be communicated in advertising & commercials. Because this type of information is what is called ‘features.’ People don’t buy features … people buy benefits. Yes. Going to heaven is a benefit … but even better … so is Hope. So is Grace.

Regardless. Home is our personal cocoon from Life. It is where we re energize to go out and battle day after day outside those four walls. I am not a Christian but I gotta tell ya … I could think of worse homes than a church for people to re energize within.

And I cannot think of a better aspect to simplify & focus on than that.


3. Organizational Discipline. Christian leaders (upper, middle and lower management) all need to follow the rules. Those they lead maybe make “human” mistakes and earn forgiveness but leaders are role models and cannot be permitted to make ‘core aspect’ mistakes and be forgiven. The leadership team is judged on how disciplined it is in following the master design/construct.

And while I initially wrote this for actual human behavior … this is also relevant to the ‘business side’ of Christianity <or let’s assume you think like a business without treating it like a business>.

All that said … if Catholics decide to actually do advertising they have clearly made a business decision. Marketing & advertising is a business.

Suffice it to say … in Life & in Business … there will always be things you want to do but then there are the things you SHOULD do. Tom <and Catholics come Home> wanted to say the words they used in the commercial … and they were right/true words … but they SHOULD have done something different and said different words to get the group  they were targeting to listen.


That’s it.

That is what was on my mind. You can certainly debate individual points. But don’t let that stop you from thinking about the overall perspective because something needs to be done. “Staying the course” is not an option. And maybe what I wrote can be a spark for someone else defining “what is right” if this isn’t.

I am not Cathloic nor am I a Christian <although a good friend has suggested to me that “there is a good Christian lurking within you Bruce” one day after a good philosophical/theological discussion>. Regardless of what I am personally … there is good advertising & communicating and there is bad advertising & communicating.

This catholic come home effort is bad.

And that is too bad … because I cannot think of many things more important than communicating this message effectively.



Lastly. A quick explanation about me <because I do not really want to go to Hell>.

Maybe this may help me out by having everyone understand Bruce McTague is probably considered a non-believer by Christians and Muslims. But he does believe in God. He would lean toward the Christian version of God but mostly believes that people should have the right to choose and make an educated choice with regard to religion and their path to God. He is in general a supporter of organized religion and its directed thinking of God. Despite not having a specific religion nor attends church he finds that in times of desperation and depression it is comforting to think that God maybe looking over his particular little corner of the world. And maybe he feels passionate about this topic because in the end he believes that God represents Hope. And everyone everywhere deserves to have hope.


Last note: this effort is something I would assist on in a second … for free. Call me and I will make it happen.


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Written by Bruce