The United Methodist Church has launched a nationwide advertising campaign for the Christmas season, targeting major areas like Washington, D.C. and Times Square and encouraging people to “connect with joy” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Advent-Neighbors campaign began on Monday, the day after the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent. The campaign, sponsored by the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States, will center more than 20 major markets, including Atlanta, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Nashville and Indianapolis.
Advent-Neighbors will feature a combination of traditional and digital channels, including social media, search and digital ads, as well as billboards. The campaign will feature a display in New York City’s Times Square, which the denomination hopes will serve as a “major exposure point” for the denomination.
Jennifer Rodia, chief communications officer for United Methodist Communications, told The Christian Post that the Christmas season has been “one of our peak advertising times” since launching the “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” campaign in 2001.
“We’ve explored many different advertising channels and many themes over the years,” Rodia said. “This year’s approach highlights the ways we find community wherever we are, despite the ways the pandemic has kept us apart.”
“We want to invite others to join us in seeking out the hope we find in God’s love as churches continue to reach out into their communities and offer meaningful ways to connect with others.”
After nearly two years of pandemic upheaval and lockdowns, Rodia believes “many individuals are looking for ways to find meaningful connections with others.”
“In the bustle of the Christmas season, it’s not uncommon for people to experience stress, woes from unmet expectations and feelings of depression and isolation,” she continued.
“We want to invite people who are searching for meaning at this very significant time of year to find connection to Jesus Christ — the true source of joy, hope and love.”
Rodia hopes that “these messages will encourage them to connect with a local United Methodist Church and find community for the Christmas season and beyond.”
In December 2017, the UMC sponsored the “Unwrap the True Meaning of Christmas Tour,” which went to cities in 16 states to emphasize the nativity story.
“The tour message centers upon the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, and an invitation to attend a local United Methodist church to continue to explore one’s faith in community with others,” UM Communications spokeswoman Diane Degnan told CP at the time.
“Our message is one of hope, joy and faith to encourage people to seek deeper meaning in their lives, which many people are seeking during the Christmas season.”