|A religious coalition's advertising is taking on gas-guzzling vehicles with the question 'What Would Jesus Drive?'
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Two separate groups -- the Evangelical Environmental Network in Philadelphia and the newly formed nonprofit SUV Ad Campaign in Los Angeles -- are preparing to field TV ads that portray the wildly popular vehicles as a threat to the Earth and national security.
Eight metro markets
The Evangelical Environmental Network, a group of 23 religious organizations led by the Rev. Jim Ball of suburban Philadelphia, plans to launch a 30-second TV spot in eight metro markets in four states Dec. 2. The theme is "What would Jesus drive," posing the moral dilemma of what's the best vehicle to drive to preserve the Earth. The line is a takeoff of the popular Christian saying, "What would Jesus do?" Zimmerman & Markman, Santa Monica, created the spot.
Media Strategies, Denver, is handling the $65,000 buy in Charlotte and Greenboro, N.C.; Kansas City and Springfield, Mo.; Cedar Rapids and De Moines, Iowa; and Fort Wayne and South Bend, Ind. Pacy Markman, a partner and co-founder of Zimmerman & Markman, said those markets were picked because the religious group is growing in those areas. The high cost of media in larger cities would gobble up the available budget, he added.
The group on Nov. 20 called on General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. in Detroit to discuss the topic. The meetings didn't resolve any issues, but at least opened a line of dialogue, a group spokesman told AdAge.com.
Patriotic anti-SUV spots
Separately, the Los Angeles-based SUV Ad Campaign expects to start shooting anti-SUV spots with a patriotic flavor in the coming weeks.
Syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington, one of the campaign's organizers, said $35,000 has been raised through small donations to fund production. She said more money is being sought for media buys. Bill Hillsman, president of Northwoods Advertising, Minneapolis, prepared the media plan.
The proposed pair of TV spots tie the gas-guzzling SUVs to terrorism. The storyboard for one commercial shows a variety of SUV drivers behind the wheel. One says, "I funded a terrorist training camp." Another ends with a wide shot of bumper-to-bumper traffic and the copy line "the biggest weapon of mass destruction is parked in your driveway."