Last week, in Part One, we asked the question: In the wake of the ‘Year of the Bible Movie,’ has the industry learned both from its hits and its misses in the faith and family genre? Today, we bring this issue home by looking at the need for a new way to engage the must-reach Faith Driven Consumer™ audience.
Last week, we looked at some of the industry’s hits and misses since the “Year of the Bible Movie” as folks worked—and continue to work—to get it right in the faith and family (F&F) entertainment genre. If you haven’t read that yet, it’s worth a look (this is part two of that conversation).
A quick reminder that we’ll be discussing this and other issues at Variety’s #PurposeSummit this Thursday, June 25th @ 9:45 a.m. PT in a conversation we’re hosting called Winning the Pastor and the Pew: How to Get the Must-Reach Faith Driven Consumer™ Audience to Endorse and Support Your Project.
The panel features high-powered guests Mark Ordesky (the guy who produced THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy while President at New Line); MPower Pictures president John Shepherd (BELLA, MACHINE GUN PREACHER, THE DROP BOX), whose partner Steve McEveety produced the absolute F&F gold-standard film THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST; Derrick Williams, the executive who runs Bishop T.D. Jakes Film and Entertainment Division; and brand strategist Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer ™ and go-to guy for journalists hot on the entertainment beat.
Alright, let’s roll up our sleeves digitally, and jump in.
We’ve talked about who the audience is (the core F&F entertainment Fan Boy), we’ve talked about what kind of content they like, we’ve touched on the need to directly message to them in a way that resonates, and now we want to share a little bit about the how.
American Insights (AI) asked Faith Driven Consumers (FDCs) about their pastor/church, and what impact it has on what they consume in entertainment.
- 78% of FDCs said it would have a significant influence on their decision to see a film if their church encouraged it.
- 57% of FDCs’ churches encourage members to see specific faith-based films.
Anecdotally, we have literally conducted tens of thousands of church movie nights over the years, so we would have estimated pretty close to these numbers before AI verified this through its research.
Since the church is the center of the Faith Driven Consumer’s life, getting pastors engaged is a big deal—as is getting his or her endorsement. Beyond this, getting the church involved is also an equally big deal—something that has not yet been fully recognized or understood.
Faith-oriented marketing firms have for many years followed a pastor, or what they call influencer, engagement model. The general idea is, you ask Joel Osteen, David Jeremiah, and Bishop T.D. Jakes—just using them as examples—to evaluate your entertainment project and, if they like it and sincerely believe in it, to share their thoughts with their congregations and communities. Then, work with as many pastors and faith influencers as you can in the same way and you have a successful project.
Ten years ago, (as InService America, the predecessor to the Faith Driven Entertainment™ joint venture launched last year between Faith Driven Global™ and InService) we successfully pioneered the influencer model with THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. People forget that THE PASSION wasn’t launched in a traditional way, and that they didn’t have meaningful P&A money until the 9th inning. THE PASSION was made possible by building buzz and support through a vast network of churches and Christian TV ministries. One day, we’ll tell you that whole story over coffee.
That model worked really well then.
Today, the influencer model remains viable and is still effective. BUT with advances in technology and consumer microtargeting, it’s now possible to engage both The Pew and The Pastor—at the same time. And not only is it possible, it’s a must.
American Insights data show that BOTH direct marketing AND church marketing matter:
- FDCs are evenly divided on whether ads that reach them directly (44%) or through a referral from church (46%) would most influence their decision to watch a movie or television show.
AND NOTE THIS FACTOID: Christians overall (70% of US adults) favor ads that reach them directly by a whopping 53%-29%. Why? Because Christians overall are not as deeply engaged with their churches as Faith Driven Consumers, so as a result the church is less of an influence.
We can’t underscore how significant this is—the influencer-only model isn’t enough anymore. It is imperative to also engage the consumer directly.
81% of Faith Driven Consumers say they are VERY LIKELY to recommend a movie to others. So, the goal is to create that perfect FDC RIPPLE EFFECT. Start your project with the FDC and work outward. When pastors and the pew both get behind your project, you’ll get the level of success you seek.
Therefore, start with getting your content RIGHT, and once you do that, here are three seemingly basic things to get your project into that marketing sweet spot for F&F entertainment.
Engage the Faith Driven Consumer through influencers (The Pastor). This was, is and always will be important. Pastors and other faith influencers are leaders people look to for guidance. If people who have dedicated their lives to serving in the ministry see the value in what you are doing, their communities will see the value as well.
Engage the Faith Driven Consumer directly (The Pew). This is new and—to be clear—a strategic shift in the way things are done. It is in the BOTH/AND that you will be successful. Because technology has made this possible, ignore this approach at your peril.
- Come meet us at #PurposeSummit this week so we can talk in further detail. Ok, you’re pointing a finger at your screen and saying, “Hey that was a bait and switch, I was looking for three specific, useful nuggets and all I got was this ‘come meet us’ garbage.” We love data and we love insights, but it gets even more interesting when we can go deeper and dialogue with you – The Entertainment Professional – directly, looking at your specific project in detail. So seriously, we would be honored to meet you.
Thanks for spending time with us again this week, and see you at #PurposeSummit!
Catch our panel at Variety’s #PurposeSummit on June 25th at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. For more information, click here.