I love the term “rapture-tising,” which as far as I can tell was coined by Advertising Age in response to the ubiquitous advertising done by Family Radio, the multi-million dollar Christian media empire, in the months leading up to what should have been the beginning of the end of the world on Saturday.
In case you didn’t see the billboards and ad-wrapped vehicles around your city, Harold Camping, one of the founders of Family Radio, predicted that the Rapture–when the “true believers will ascend to Heaven”–would take place on May 21, 2011 and that the end of the world would occur just five months later on October 21, 2011. We have yet to see if the end of the world occurs, but it appears that the Rapture certainly didn’t. Since we’re all still here after last Saturday, Camping has since revised his prediction saying that May 21 was an “invisible judgment day” and that the world is still going to end in October.
Interestingly enough, this campaign, funded by donations from the public and by Family Radio, attracted attention from media all over the world and it seems as though everyone has been talking about the Rapture lately. This media attention and widely promoted ad campaign seemingly contributed to a huge spike in daily reach and attention to Family Radio’s site in the days leading up to the hyped event, as seen below. On the set date for the Rapture, May 21, almost 20% of the Internet browsing population in the U.S. visited the site!
One of the ways we can gauge the effectiveness of the advertisements in driving awareness for Judgment Day is by taking a look at recent search referrals for FamilyRadio.com, which as you can see from the chart below, many of the top searches were for terms related to the end of times. Interestingly enough, one keyword that FamilyRadio.com has been paying for since the beginning of the year is “mark 13″ which is a passage in the Bible that talks about the apocalypse and the Rapture.
Did you see any “Rapture-tisments” in your city? Did you head to Family Radio’s website to learn more after seeing? Do you think public service announcement style advertisements like these work in driving awareness about a topic/event?
Jared is currently the Associate Digital Marketing Manager at Compete (Millward Brown Digital). He is a graduate of Northeastern University, having achieved his B.A. in Communication Studies. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.