Until recently, Scientology ads had a built-in safety valve to protect sane but impressionable people. They had the overabundance of numinous sky and sunset shots, fake gold lettering with clumsily Photoshopped twinkly glints, and too much of everything, slathered on with fists of ham. The ads gave that subtle sense of unease that comes from being part of a well-funded cult.
But a new crop of ads has the right mix of talent, lack of morality, and extreme vagueness to closely resemble mainstream TV commercials. The message is, essentially: You’re a human, and you are alive. These ads, slickly produced as they are, have one very big Achilles’ heel: Scientology.
The commercials say, “We all feel it. That unexplainable emptiness, that can only be filled by one thing: the truth.” Then the tagline: Scientology.
Better to leave off there, of course, because “…the truth that king alien Xenu buried other aliens in volcanoes and now many of them are living inside you” isn’t going to speak to the masses.
But if the bad news is these ads look slick enough to rope in poor chumps. The good news is that the tagline “Know yourself. Know life.” is very easy to change on billboards to “no self. no life.” (not that we’d ever, ever encourage that sort of thing).
Scientology will repair your awful life [Adfreak]
Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine .