Christmas Starts with Christ

It is a well-known fact that for retailers and their prospective customers Christmas starts in August, but even the Churches, it seems, have to gear up early for the festive season, with ChurchAds.Net having recently launched its 2011 Christmas advertising campaign.

ChurchAds.Net, previously known as the Churches Advertising Network, was established as an ecumenical body in 1992, following an experimental Christmas advertising campaign in the Church of England Diocese of Oxford in 1991. It has since run many high-profile (and sometimes controversial) campaigns, particularly around Easter and Christmas, employing poster and other print media, radio and – most recently – television advertising.

All this has been made possible by the Broadcasting Act 1990, which permitted broadcast advertising on religious themes; funding from the Jerusalem Trust; the pro bono work of some of the UK’s top award-winning advertising executives and designers; and a dedicated council of reference, trustees and executive team drawn from a range of denominations.

The 2009 Christmas campaign was the first to run under the ‘Christmas starts with Christ’ banner, a theme intended to last for five years. The 2010 campaign introduced alongside this the message of ‘He’s on His way’, accompanied by an image of an ultrasound scan of a haloed foetus Christ in the womb.

The 2010 Christmas campaign report estimates that 30 million people had an opportunity to see or hear the poster and radio advertising, with posters displayed on 1,400 sites and radio commercials on 175 stations. In addition, there were 150,000 page views on the ChurchAds.Net website, 14,000 downloads of the MP3 radio commercials, 10,000 downloads of the A3 poster, and 93,000 items of campaign merchandise sold. The report is available at:

In the wake of the 2010 campaign, ChurchAds.Net commissioned ComRes to undertake a post-campaign market impact survey, with 2,050 adult Britons aged 18 and over interviewed online between 29 December 2010 and 1 January 2011. ChurchAds.Net has kindly made these data available to BRIN, and selected results appear below.

The survey revealed that 26% of all respondents had seen or heard the strapline ‘Christmas starts with Christ’, with a peak of 35% among the 25-34s. Of the strapline-conscious, 37% had seen or heard it at church (particularly the over-55s), 49% through some form of advertising, with 33% unable to remember where they had seen or heard it (multiple answers were evidently possible).

Although only 9% recalled seeing the 2010 campaign poster, 61% overall liked its message ‘Christmas starts with Christ’ (rising to 70% among the over-65s). This was 14% more than approved of ‘He’s on His way’. Taking the 2010 poster as a whole, 40% considered it original, 39% thought-provoking, 32% clever, 25% effective, 21% controversial, 20% striking, 10% disrespectful, 6% out-of-date, and 5% shocking.

The 2011 Christmas campaign slogan reads ‘However you dress it up … Christmas starts with Christ’. The poster portrays a modern-day nativity crib, surrounded by characters representing contemporary professions and fashions. Thus, the wise men are depicted as successful entrepreneurs whose gifts are iconic treasures from today’s culture. As ChurchAds.Net says, ’It’s the meeting of Christianity and high street consumerism, with Christ in the middle.’ For the first time, ChurchAds.Net plans to place advertisements in regional and national newspapers. See the 2011 campaign page at:

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