Truth in Advertising?

So you can find Tertullian on google autocorrect, and as we’ve said before, you can find him in the land of advertising.

For instance, the other day on facebook, I noticed this ad:

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 4.20.25 PM

Because nothing shouts “mortgage rates” like an attractive woman with striking green eyes…

Of course we know what’s going on here.  Lendgo wants to promote their services, and, like everyone else, they’d love to woo the right demographic. And, evidently, for Lendgo the “right demographic” are, oh, 25-45 year old available (or not) men.

Ads like this one illustrate that premise that what a company chooses to put forward in their advertisements is designed to capture the attention of the specific constituency they are hoping to attract. I mean, don’t get me started on how World Series games double as 3+ hour opportunities to talk with my kids about erectile dysfunction…

And so I paid attention last week when the latest edition of Christianity Today arrived, complete with a “Special Advertising Section” devoted to seminaries, bible colleges and graduate schools. Just who, I wondered, are America’s Christian graduate institutions hoping to attract?

Could it be…women?

Whether it’s the same line of reasoning as Lendgo’s ad above, or, far better, if it’s because these schools are legitimately trying to attract women, for me there were a surprising number of women featured in the section’s various ads. Here’s the tale of the tape:

By my count, there are 21 schools with ads featured in the section in total (there are other ads in the magazine; I’m just counting the ones in the special advertising section).

3 have no pictures whatsoever in the ad. Seriously? You’re spending all that money on a copy-only ad? Aren’t we catering to a generation who uses instagram?!? #adfail

4 have pictures without people in them, including Baylor University’s, which features a massive dog snout. I was going to make a snarky comment about Baylor’s vision for canine theological equipping, but then I read that they are using the scent receptors in a dog’s nose to help identify cancer in humans. Um, good one Baylor.

8 have pictures of just men, most of them solo and, not surprisingly, the majority of them are white.  I think my favorite is Western Seminary’s ad featuring a motorcycle rider–wait for it–with a red colander on his head. Huh? Also, honorable mention goes to Liberty University’s ad featuring none other than Kirk Cameron holding court with three cinematic arts students.

And that leaves 6 ads featuring women. And 5 of those ads have solo women. So props to Moody, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Regent University, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Bethel Seminary and Cairn University for featuring women in their ads. I have no idea what the theological bent is for any of these 6 institutions, but putting women in their ads seems to me like a step in the right direction. If these schools are hoping to attract women, they are putting their ad money where their hopes are.

So, for those of you scoring at home, 29% of the total ads feature women, but that number jumps to 43% when you remove the ads without people.

And when you consider that according to the Association of Theological School’s website, women make up just 34%  of the 74K students currently enrolled in the 270 ATS member campuses…

43% starts to look pretty good.

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