Last night I was watching “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” which I had Tivo’d a few nights ago. The show is a reality series that is trying to find the lead for a revival of Sound of Music being produced by Andrew Lloyd Weber. That’s not the interesting part (though the show is enjoyable and not all as mean-spirited as other reality series). What was interesting was the new commercial by Scientology. It is a montage of different people of all races and ethnicities, though mostly young people — early to mid-20s. The commercial ends with the tagline, “It’s life, and it’s yours” and directs viewers to go to their web site. (The commercial itself is not available online. You’ll have to find it on cable television and from what I can determine, mostly smaller cable networks like IFC and History Channel.) When you go to scientology.org, you will find an array of videos (but not the commercial). There are two things I found particularly of interest here: 1) all the commercials were described as Public Service Announcements which would mean that the church would get free air time to play then, and 2) there was a section entitled “Way to Happiness.” Way to Happiness contains some very highly produced and entertaining PSAs. (Again, I would share them with you, but the site only allows you to send them to a friend — and thus capture emails — but not to embed it on a blog.) Check out the first one called “Take Care of Yourself.” It’s one of the best produced ads I’ve seen. Note that the end of the spot takes you to another web site called The Way to Happiness. This site contains no information that would suggest that it is in any way tied to the Church of Scientology. In sum, we have a new ad campaign targeting young people, a web site that does not signal its affiliation with the Church of Scientology, and a marketer that doesn’t want you to share videos except in a way in which they can capture your name and email. While the technology has changed, the game remains the same.
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