Friday, September 12, 2014

UCG's Epic "Why Were You Born" Media Failure

UCG went into hyper-drive recently touting a new lecture series featuring Gary Petty.  The topic they picked has been a favorite one that has occupied Armstrongites for decades.  Why Were You Born?  Only Armstrongites seem invested in this and that is tied directly into HWA's obsession with it in the 1940-50's.  Coming out of the War people were asking this question in light of the atrocities and millions of lives lost.  Today, hardly anyone even worries about this, yet UCG claims it is the most asked question in all of humanity.

UCG released the facts about this wondrous campaign the other day including numbers of attendees.

Attendance at the event was over 200, including some local United Church of God members and Ambassador Bible College students. (Due to space limitations, the majority of local church members were not able to attend.) In addition, almost 400 webcast connections watched the event live online—representing more than a 1,000 people.

Particularly encouraging, was that the seminar drew 74 new guests, most having reserved tickets ahead of time, with a few showing up at the door for the event. Everybody who attended received a free seminar-themed notebook with pen and a copy of the United Church of God booklet Why Were You Born? (which was previously titled What Is Your Destiny?).

Notice what was said above:  attendance was around 200, 126 attendees were UCG members, employees and ABC students.  74 people were non-COG.   With an urban population of 2.2 million,  74 people is a horrendous payoff for the amount of money dumped into this failed campaign.

Billboards in the Cincinnati area through Lamar cost around $2,500 each for a four week period.  Their impact is the number of vehicles that drive by in a given period of time times the number of occupants in the vehicle.  UCG bought  eight of these billboards. Other costs were to rent the hotel room at the Holiday Inn for the meeting and for the free pens and notebooks given to the attendees.

Pandora radio ads were paid for, 746 ads were paid to run on Time Warner Cable in the Cincinnati area.  UCG had to pay for over 1,000 Google click-through ads.  5,400 letters were mailed by the USPS to household in the Cincinnati area.  This does not include the employee cost that it used to run Facebook and Twitter accounts or to plan the event.

Only in Armstrongism can it be declared a success they 74 people out of 2.2 million show up. It just goes to show that all the millions they are dumping into booklets, magazines and television shows is having a negligible impact worldwide.  No one knows who UCG is or what kind of silly message they are promoting.  It still plays mainly to a COG base that is constantly shape shifting from one group to the next.

Read the glowing report by UCG here:  “Why Were You Born?” Event Draws 74 New People in Cincinnati


Byker Bob said...

This is one of those areas where a do it yourself approach, based on what they remember from HWA and GTA, is really not going to be effective. They should already know that based on the relative lack of success of their radio or TV programs. Someone would do well to bring in outside consultants to groom and refine the media approaches.


Anonymous said...

Jesus, it looks like they pulled out all the stops.

Let's start out with the little stuff. 400 connections. How many of those connections were UCG members? Of those who weren't, chances are their level of buy-in is proportional to their level of investment, not much. And a talking head on a screen doesn't have the same forcefulness upon the psyche as does a live person in the room.

Next, 2,500 for billboards x 8 = 20,000. 1st class presorted is $.381 x 5400 = 2,057 and lets just estimate the Pandora, Google Ads, and Cable TV spots rounded it out to 30,000 even. Then there's the cost of the hotel Ballroom, I'll estimate that at $2,000. Then I'll estimate that compensated labor to put this event together, put together the mailing, design the ad layouts, purchase the media, run the social media, and collect and analyze data afterwards rounds it out to 40,000 even.

Your estimates may vary.

Using these estimates though, dividing 40,000 by 74 = $540, and that's the cost, not of making a new convert, but of simply suckering a prospective future titheslave in the door. If you made the generous assumption that half of these will be hoodwinked into becoming "members in good standing" that's $1,080 per convert. A more realistic estimate, like 10% yields a cost-per-convert of over $5,000. That means that each person they manage to deceive will have to cough up roughly $5,000 before this event could be said to pay for itself.

Anonymous said...

Wow! They spent around over $50,000 dollars to reach 74 people. That is $675 per person. They would have been more successful paying people to show up. $100 or even $50 per person would have filled a large auditorium.

If they are willing to spend that type of money they should consider the "time share" model of marketing. Give away something valuable to fill the room.

old EXPCG hag said...

All just a big fat con job.

Anonymous said...

The original post said: "...Only in Armstrongism can it be declared a success they 74 people out of 2.2 million show up. It just goes to show that all the millions they are dumping into booklets, magazines and television shows is having a negligible impact worldwide. No one knows who UCG is or what kind of silly message they are promoting. It still plays mainly to a COG base that is constantly shape shifting from one group to the next..."

Well, that COG base associated with United's Association is very important for the mammon that base supplies.

Those who attended the Indianapolis Conference that formed United in 1995 knew that their association needed to show some physical works (e.g. publish a Magazine ASAP) so brethren would physically see where some of their mammon was being used for ... or the people would continue to drift off, shatter, splinter further...and obviously, mammon would decrease over time.

I suppose, in a roundabout way, one might think that the United Ass. has come a "long way," because some of Victor Kubik's last words to all attending were as follows:

"...If we're not here - if we don't organize something they will drift off, and shatter, and splinter. And now with what we have done we have provided - a baby, and a carriage, and a bassinette, and a crib..."

Well, how much more could we expect with such a start?????


Connie Schmidt said...

Hey... religious marketing has always been a tough sell.

Jesus himself only had 120 followers after 3.5 years, and this after raising the dead, healing the blind, feeing the thousands and walking on water!

Black Ops Mikey said...

Why were you born?

Why were you (specifically) born?

They don't know and can't tell you.

But it has something about giving money to the UCG for the rest of your life to listen to lies centered around British Israelism, which by this time, they know, just KNOW is wrong!

Glad to see the major fail.

Now then.

They were born to be hireling fools.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they attracted anyone
using Billboards in a red STOP sign
like color, the words "why were you bored" screaming across it at you. No mention of an organization or company presenting it, makes people think is this a trick by scientology or another waco group. As soon as those people hear about HWA, GTA and the other goons, and their scandals, it should waken them up. In this age it's too easy to research their history.

Anonymous said...

Gary just can't seem to keep his glasses on for more than a minute and he keeps scratching his face...

Why were you born? It's obvious- you have to work your butt off so that you can pay tithes and offerings to (insert name here) so that they can build more buildings in (insert city name here)while making you feel like human trash.


Minimalist said...

They would have done better if the Billboard was en Española, Latinos are the fastest growth market in Christianity.

They might also buy into the convoluted Anglo-Israel-Theory that these stupid white people still believe!

Anonymous said...

How many of the 74 will be left after they learn of the strange teachings of this cultic group? Maybe one or zero.

Allen C. Dexter said...

"As soon as those people hear about HWA, GTA and the other goons, and their scandals, it should wake them up. In this age it's too easy to research their history."

Exactly! HWA could hide his past by getting out of Oregon and slowly building a new audience and following by mass advertising out of people like me who had no clue. This is no longer the world of the 50s through the 70s. Now we have search engines that even people my age know how to use. My poor parents couldn't send me to Google and tell me to check it out, but anyone can do that now.

Byker Bob said...

Actually, the personal appearance campaigns that are successful are those made by evangelists who are already well-known, and perhaps well loved. They may have a best-seller on the L.A. or N.Y. Times booklists, and are recognizable by much of the general public. This was certainly true of GTA during the Hee Haw era.

If you take this UCG project apart, and try to relate it to music, who is it that fills arenas, and sells a lot of memorabilia? It is those who already have media exposure, and songs out with which the public is familiar. If Gary Petty were a musician, he would probably start by appearing at open mike night at a local club, with most of the attendees being perhaps friends and family. He'd need to do some local charity gigs, weddings, and bar mitzvahs, and if there was something special about what he was doing, a buzz would develop. Sometimes, a snowball effect is created, but other times, not so much.

UCG did do one thing right. They put this on in an area where they have some presence or substance, the city in which their offices are located. It is difficult to counsel a largely separatist group that if they worked along with the surrounding community, donating to the local foodbank, helping the homeless, or assisting teenage prostitutes into a better life, that maybe these activities would build trust and open doors.

There was never a sense of urgency in Armstrongism about the salvation thing. The emphasis was on "the work growing" ie numbers, resources, money, and power. Not, "Isn't this wonderful, now my aunt, uncle, and cousins won't have to suffer through the tribulation?" but, "The tithes and offerings from all the new members have allowed us to add ten new radio stations, and to build a new field house."

No matter how you look at it, Armstrongism is a contrarian religion, and most of what these splinters consider normal is pretty darned surreal. It may not make any difference at all if they spend the time and money honing their evangelism chops. Even if they become less secretive, the message may still put people off.


Anonymous said...

I work in advertising and I would like to give you what I have roughly figured as the cost of this campaign.

8 billboards at $2500 a piece = $20,000
1 Million Pandora radio ads at $20 per 1000 = $20,000 (reaching and unresponsive demographic of 18-34. UCG’s appeal is probably 50+)
1,010 Google ad click throughs ($2 a piece) = $2020
746 Time Warner Cable ads at $20 a piece = $14920
5400 letters at $.11 a piece = $594
Hall rental = $600
Printed material $200

Total estimate is $58,334 not including travel expenses. For 74 responses that is $788 per person of which 3/4 were most likely from other COG groups.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, $58,334! And that's not counting UCG internal salary costs for design, layout, purchasing, event planning, and marketing data collection and analysis which would certainly push this estimate up over $60,000, and the per person figure above $800.

I bet they won't try this again, but I hope they do!

Byker Bob said...

They skipped too many of the preliminaries or prerequisites. And, that would not have been the kiss of death if they had had the witness of God behind them. This is another case of failed validation.

In a sense, there was more logic and thinking put into this campaign than was involved in the other high-profile campaigns of those who suddenly named themselves after Biblical figures and set dates for the tribulation, Jesus' return, or the reunification of Armstrongism. UCG can hold their heads up over the fact that they didn't go blasphemous in their campaign, but it still goes down as a non-event, something that in no way measured up to expectation.


Minimalist said...

Or how about this: Total # of Armstrongists remaining (~15,000?) divided by marketing dollars (adjusted for inflation) spent to snag them from 1934 to 2014 ($3 billion?)