Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The KFC Maneuver

I was thinking about the Self Knowledge Symposium starting up programs again this fall at UNC, and I started wondering what other student organizations were looking and sounding like this year. So I started by checking out the biggest and most market-saavy of student organizations: Campus Crusade for Christ. So, if you're interested in marketing and messaging and such, click on the link and check it out, and see what your first impressions are. I'll wait for you.

* * *

So, what strikes you?
  • Check out that super-strong emphasis on the school affiliation: the big UNC logo in their cheesecake photo, the Carolina colors . . . versus the group name, "c a m p u s c r u s a d e" in tiny letters at the top of the page. That shouldn't be too surprising: if you're looking for a hook to get people to identify with your organization, you can't really go wrong by appealing to the identification they already feel with the school. It also screams "mainstream"; we're normal, we're just like you, we're just another part of the university experience. We are not Jesus-freaks.
  • "Mars . . . needs . . . women." I couldn't find a single male face until I went three pages deep into the site. Maybe it's coincidence, but I doubt it. The fact is that images of women are good for selling to both men and women. I also recently heard that women buy 80% of the spiritual books in the U.S.
  • Notice how the full name, "Campus Crusade for Christ," only appears in the finest of print, and completely outside the main content of the site. In their text, they refer to themselves as "Cru"; they reference the larger national movement as "CCC". Now, when you've got a long clunky name, it's only natural that it gets abbreviated in casual use. (Hardly anyone says "Self Knowledge Symposium," either. It's been "Es-Kay-Es" since the second year it existed.) But I think there is more going on here. For years and years, Kentucky Fried Chicken used it's full name in ads, jingles and packaging. Then, it became clear that the name was more of a liability than a help; in an increasingly health-conscious world, it didn't really help to scream "Fried!" at the top of your lungs. So they switched to "KFC". Same colors, same Colonel, same brand, but now with a name that softened the connotations. I think Campus Crusade is in a similar situation. With an increased sensitivity to Islam in the media, "Crusade" conjures up the darker side of Christianity's past. But "Cru" seems so much cleaner; if it has any connotations, it makes one think of sculling (i.e. "crew") or bubbly (e.g. "Premier Brut Cru Champagne"). And Federal Express proved that the best sign of one's popularity is to be better known by one's nickname: "FedEx". Hence, "United Parcel Service" decided to follow suite and adopt its industry nickname, "Brown." And the tabloids minted abbreviations galore: "J-Lo", "Branjolina", etc.
  • I'm very impressed with the clean structure of the site. There is very little text. They explain their mission in one tight page. They have hyperlinks to the more extensive treatments (e.g. "See God Rightly") but they keep the noise level to an absolute minimum on the main site.

We could learn a lot from these people. Bill Bright, the founder of the movement, received the Templeton Award for Progress in Religion, primarily because he was a genius for organizing people and building a lasting legacy. I think the SKS could get there, too.


Post a Comment

<< Home