From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Cooperative Media Campaign to Unchurched
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
"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
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 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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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