From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Cooperative Media Campaign to Unchurched

Date 04 May 1996 16:06:07


96156        Cooperative Media Campaign to Unchurched 
                  Encounters Legal Entanglement 
                         by Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--A cooperative media campaign designed to attract 25- to 
40-year-old non-churchgoers into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has hit a 
legal snag stemming from copyright problems. 
     After the campaign was authorized by the 207th General Assembly, 
Carden & Cherry, Inc., of Nashville, Tenn., developed television and radio 
spots that use quotes from popular songs of the '60s and '70s to get 
people's attention before inviting them to "Stop in and find out" what 
being Presbyterian is all about. 
     But the 10-member Cooperative Media Campaign Committee, which has 
worked more than a year to plan the advertising campaign, will "probably 
have to obtain permission to use the short song phrases," according to the 
Rev. Frank A. Beattie, associate director of evangelism and church 
development in the National Ministries Division. 
     "We're proceeding in getting permission to use the spots as they are 
at the present time," Beattie said. "We aren't using any music or 
references to a composer or performer and ordinarily the  rightful use' 
doctrine applies. But we just want to be very careful that there is no 
possibility of litigation. 
     "We're working closely with [Carden & Cherry] and with our legal 
office and their legal office as well," Beattie said. "But we're in sort of 
a holding pattern right now until we get ready to land." 
     Caution is indeed warranted since part of the ad campaign also 
contains sound-alike radio spots of  famous people, according to Ted Yaple, 
associate for media services in the Congregational Ministries Division. For 
example, Yaple said, recording artist Bette Midler won a 
multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company in 1988 over 
sound-alike material. In  "Midler vs. Ford Motor Company," Midler sued both 
Ford and its advertising agency for using a sound-alike television 
commercial even though she never appeared in the ad and her name was never 
     "Just because [Midler] won in the California courts doesn't mean it 
would stick all over the nation," Yaple said. "It is a legal precedent, 
     Despite this development, Yaple said, the campaign is far from being 
endangered and will especially benefit congregations.  To supplement the 
ads, a packet of materials has been developed that includes a manual on how 
to use radio, television and print for evangelism and a booklet on how to 
be a more welcoming congregation, written by the Rev. Hugh B. Berry, 
executive presbyter of  Muskingum Valley Presbytery, who is also a planning 
committee member. 
     "I think the most important thing about the campaign and the way that 
it's designed is that it's an opportunity for congregations to think 
seriously about whether or not they want new people to come in their front 
door," Yaple said, adding he believes the ads will only be successful if 
congregations are willing to welcome strangers. 
     In 1994, Berry's presbytery sent an overture to the General Assembly 
calling on the denomination to begin "high-visibility advertising in the 
national media that will present the gospel in an appealing way to secular 
people." This overture led to the development of the current Cooperative 
Media Campaign. 
     Beattie said the key word is "cooperative," since presbyteries will be 
sent ads in whatever form they request.  It will then be their 
responsibility to place the ads on TV and radio stations, on billboards or 
in newspapers. 
     "In most places presbyteries have people who are in a position to buy 
time on radio and TV and place ads much more inexpensively than we could," 
Beattie said, adding the materials are designed so that names and addresses 
of particular congregations can be inserted. 
     Representatives from approximately a dozen presbyteries gathered in 
Pittsburgh Jan. 27 to begin an orientation process for the "testing" phase 
of the campaign, which is scheduled for  August 1996 through January 1997. 
     Beattie said he hopes the campaign timetable will not be affected, but 
said this depends on how fast permission to use the spots can be obtained 
and whether or not the committee can go to this year's General Assembly in 
Albuquerque with demonstration materials that have copyright approval 
requested and pending. A full-scale launch of the campaign is expected at 
the 1997 Assembly. 
     In the meantime, Beattie said, an Extra Commitment Opportunity 
account, "Proclaiming Christ" # 047877, has been established for 
contributions toward a potential denominationwide media effort in 1997-98. 
     "So far we're very satisfied with this campaign's development," 
Beattie said. "We've got a little momentary snag here, but we're going to 
overcome that one, too." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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