Something our pastor said at Christmas Eve services this year inspired me and got me thinking about what it would have been like working in marketing and PR at the FIRST Christmas. I imagine it would have gone something like this…
Bethlehem — the year Zero. I’m working in this little town, which is located about five miles south of Jerusalem. Out of the blue, I’m summoned by the Pharisees and awarded the biggest contract of my PR and marketing career.
The Pharisees have heard rumors that God has sent the long-awaited Messiah to satisfy the frustrated desires of His chosen people. My assignment: make sure the press is alerted, and work out the messaging with Mr. Messiah.
The Pharisees give me a few short bullet points they want to be sure are made clear:
- The Messiah has arrived
- He will avenge all the wrongs done to us
- He will lead the Chosen People to greatness
They give me an address — which they apparently have derived from the sighting of a big star in the sky. I plug the address into my GPS, hop on my camel and set out to find the Messiah so I can begin the positioning and PR effort.
NOT WHAT I PICTURED
Imagine my surprise when I pull up in front of a mangy barn. I figure I’ve been given the wrong address, so I go inside and find an ordinary carpenter named Joseph and his wife Mary.
“Excuse me…I know this sounds crazy, but the Pharisees sent me to this address to find the Messiah.” Mary looks at me and smiles, then glances at a wooden trough filled with hay. In it lies a baby. “Behold, the Savior,” she says.
ARE U KIDDING?
I stare at the baby, then ask the couple if I’m being punked. “Are you joking? I’m looking for the guy that’s gonna deliver us from our enemies. Probably a big guy with armor, maybe driving a fiery chariot. Swinging a sword made of gold, capable of killing thousands of Romans with a single swipe.”
No, they assure me — this is the Son of God.
“Uh-oh,” I say to myself. “My client isn’t gonna like this.”
And I was right. When the Pharisees heard the news that their Savior was born in a smelly stable, they canceled the assignment. This was clearly not the Messiah they expected or wanted.
But I decided to hang around — because I got the feeling I might learn something. I was right again.
The first lesson my now pro bono client taught me was Expect the Unexpected. Forget expectations…deal with reality. God decided He would send a baby — not Conan the Barbarian. It was time to roll with what we had.
Sometimes the true message is hard to accept. As the baby grew and matured, my new client actually taught me that love, not war, would win the day.
No price is too high for the right result. Jesus knew that most of his own people would not accept him as the Messiah — and that, in fact, they would turn against him and eventually kill him. But He also knew that sacrificing himself and delivering the message of truth would pave the way for hundreds of millions to begin to follow him over the next 2,000 years.
TODAY, AS THEN
Imagine what marketing was like during the first Christmas and apply these lessons when creating your marketing plans. It’s a great example to follow.
Stay tuned and stay smart.