Churches, by nature, are fairly conservative beasts. Understandably, they're trying valiantly to cling to the power they once held before many modern folk decided a big breakfast at the local cafe was a better way to spend a Sunday morning. As a result, they're not regarded as the biggest embracers of change or difference, which makes the unashamedly progressive and inclusive Anglican church St Matthew in the City in Auckland such an interesting–and polarising—case. The church has well and truly bucked the conservative old school trend and established a reputation for controversial, attention grabbing marketing ploys that aim get people of all shapes, sizes, persuasions and beliefs interested in the offerings of the big man. The zealots certainly don't seem to like what they generally deem to be blasphemy (the media does, however) and St Matthew in the City's latest effort, a blessed billboard made with the help of TBWA\, certainly fits the brief.
The billboard, which was intended for those who didn't make it to church over Christmas, was blessed during a pre-Xmas service and it's been up outside the church offering locals a drive-by blessing ever since. And those who happen to be walking by are encouraged to touch the ad "for extra blessedness", which many have done.
It's the handiwork of recent Media Design School graduates Beth O'Brien and Tom Darlow, currently interning at TBWA\, and the pair told the MDS blog the inspiration came from an extensive conversation about the role of religion and the church.
“We were talking about where the sheep go when they want time alone, or whether the moon has been so full that someone has been moon burnt, or something similarly useless," says Darlow. "We got onto the idea of cursing a flatmate’s bedroom as a prank – as in, they’d come home from holiday to find all their stuff cursed. Anyway, we thought that if you could do that, then why not bless the billboard?”
Next up for St Matthew in the City? Surely the shape of Jesus himself spraypainted on all the pieces of toast on the still outstanding Vogel's billboards.
Agency: TBWA Auckland
Executive Creative Director: Andy Blood
Creative Directors: Iain Nealie and Tara McKenty
Illustrator: Lauren Marriot
Copywriter: Tom Darlow
Art Director: Beth Obrien
Production Manager: Michelle Hong