Truth in Advertising

advertising blog grace love of god prayer Mar 17, 2021

I shop therefore I am. (fabric)
Remodeling is happiness. (design company)
The 5 basic necessities of life: movies, TV, video, music & books. (magazine)
Give your day a little lift. (candy)
Acquire a taste for the ultimate compliment. (appliances)
Wear it and be happy. (fragrance)
What is comfort? (shoes)

Each of these slogans is a direct quote from an advertising hook in a magazine. What follows in parentheses tells you the product being marketed.

In this list, you are promised everything from your basic needs being met, to comfort, happiness (twice), an upturn in your day, the ultimate compliment, and even existence itself. And all of it will come to you, of course, after you purchase the item being advertised.

It is the advertisers’ job to make you want their products. So they dig down deep into your true needs and try to grab you there. Of course I want to be happy. Of course I want to be uplifted. Of course I want to be admired. Of course I want to be comfortable.

According to a recent USC article, “In the 1970′s, people were exposed to about 500 ads per day. At present, people see roughly 5,000 ads per day. There are 5.3 trillion display ads shown online every year. On average, children see 20,000 thirty-second commercials each year. Adults see an average of 2 million of those on a yearly basis.”

And it’s not just advertising that sends us messages. From an early age we all receive messages from parents, friends, teachers, and more. We are constantly responding or reacting to messages from outside ourselves.

Our personality is formed, in part, by which of these messages we decide to take in and which ones we decide to push away or hide.

The ultimate reality is that we are loved by God just as we are, just as he made us (our true self). However, as we grow up we begin to construct a false self. We compensate for a world that is not the way we thought it would be, and over time we begin to believe the false self is who we really are. But we grow tired under the weight of that mask.

Brennan Manning calls our false self the imposter. “While the imposter draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in its belovedness. We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences but in our simple presence in life” (Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child).

It is good to learn to recognize the thoughts and messages we encounter throughout our day that cause us to lose sight of our true nature as beloved children of God.

What messages have you been paying attention to lately? What are you letting in? Is it really true?

The actual truth is what enlivens the true self. Truth that is a Person. Truth that is eternal. Truth that bears good fruit and that won’t wear out or go out of style like the items in the advertisements.

Let’s look at the ads one more time. But this time let’s shine the light of scripture onto them:

I shop therefore I am.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Remodeling is happiness.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

The basic necessities of life
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Give your day a little lift.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

Acquire a taste for the ultimate compliment.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15)

Wear it and be happy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)

What is comfort?
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:23-26)

I encourage you not to use these verses as battering rams to beat these advertisements into submission. Rather, in the work of the soul, we notice and then we let ourselves sink into the grace that is always available to us. The manner in which we wield the truth matters.

We grow at the pace of grace, and we change at the pace of transformation.

Embrace your true self and continue to throw off the ways of the false self. That may be the greatest advertisement this world has ever seen for the grace-filled and kingdom-focused life.

Which of these verses speaks to you? Offer it as a prayer and carry it with you today.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash