Friday, May 19, 2006

Christian ad about Code gets pulled

The National Post carries an article: Christian ad about Code gets pulled: Theatre chain drops spot that was to appear before film

Brian Hutchinson, National Post
Published: Friday, May 19, 2006
VANCOUVER - A movie house commercial that encourages churchgoers to see and discuss Hollywood thriller The Da Vinci Code has been dropped by Canada's largest cinema chain, which said the ad was part of a religious campaign to "stalk" unsuspecting film patrons.

The 10-second spot was produced by evangelical Christians and was to be shown for the next month inside 65 Cineplex cinemas in Ontario and Western Canada.
We are just nasty people - we now "stalk" unsuspecting film patrons.
The ad directs people to a Christian Web site devoted to the controversial film, which opens across North America today.

Cineplex Entertainment LP is promoting the movie heavily; however, on Wednesday, the company abruptly cancelled its $63,000 advertising deal with Campus Crusade for Christ Canada, a B.C.-based affiliate of the world's largest evangelical Christian organization, CCC International.

The decision was announced after a story about the Campus Crusade ad appeared this week in the Toronto Star.

In addition to producing the ad, the Star reported, Campus Crusade had "mobilized a small army of volunteers from Toronto to Vancouver willing to stalk moviegoers in the line outside cinemas" and to press upon them "biblical tracts," debunking contentious claims about Jesus Christ said to be in the movie treatment of The Da Vinci Code.
Notice the difference: the direct statement about christians who "stalk" and the weasel words: "claims... said to be in the movie"
Cineplex made direct reference to the Star article in an e-mail to Campus Crusade yesterday.

"With the knowledge that this organization plans to 'stalk' our moviegoers outside of our theatres handing out unapproved material concerning a film we are presenting, we cannot lend support to this activity by running this campaign," wrote Cineplex ad saleswoman Diane Rajh.

Campus Crusade's marketing director was flabbergasted when he read the Cineplex e-mail.

"We never planned to stalk anybody," Braden Douglas said yesterday.

"As I told the Toronto Star reporter, rather than throw up walls, we want to encourage people to see the film and to discuss it."

Campus Crusade distributed cards and brochures that promote its Da Vinci Code Web site; the material reached as many as 30,000 individuals and churches across Canada. While the brochures contain a brief gospel message at the bottom, "they are not what most people would consider as biblical tracts," Mr. Douglas noted.

"Ten students in Montreal said they might go out to a few theatres and hand out the material," he added. "A handful of students in Calgary said they might as well. This is not some massive army we have assembled."

Reached at her office in Toronto, Cineplex spokeswoman Pat Marshall said it was not, in fact, her company's view that Campus Crusade planned to harass moviegoers. The e-mail that Cineplex sent to the organization was a "mistake." Ms. Rajh, she added, "is misinformed."

Cineplex's decision to drop the brief spot was made because the company "does not show any religious advertising at all," Ms. Marshall explained, even if it promotes a film the company is showing in its theatres. The contract with Campus Crusade was made in error. "It slipped though the cracks."
Do you hear the sound of Cineplex backpeddling: Campus Crusade stalks... no they don't... we don't allow religious advertizing... except of course if they are showing a religious film.

Give full marks to Campus Crusade for trying to open dialogue.

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