The Chosen and its unorthodox marketing campaign

It’s Holy Week on the Western calendar, which for some Christians means extra church services. For fans of The chosenon the other hand, it meant reruns, discounted merchandise, and a highly unusual and controversial advertising campaign.

Series creator Dallas Jenkins has been hosting an eight-day binge-watch of the series on YouTube and other websites since last Sunday. At two episodes per night, the entire sixteen-episode marathon will reach its conclusion on Easter Sunday – at a time when some churches will still meet for evening prayer.

More controversially, the show’s current poster campaign took an unexpected turn this week when ads were “defaced” with graffiti bearing harsh slogans like “The Chosen Is Boring” and “ChosenSux.com”, which last one turned out to be the URL. for a website featuring a video in which Satan complains about the show’s success:

Although it’s clear from the video that the graffiti was part of an elaborate ad campaign, many fans – unaware of the larger ad campaign – reacted badly to the “defaced” billboards, and Jenkins complained. is apologized for any confusion the campaign may have caused in its introduction. to the Wednesday evening edition of the binge-watch series of the week:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVE2x5RnwIM

In a press release, Jenkins apologized for not bringing fans into the ad campaign sooner, and he said the main goal of the campaign was to attract new viewers:

“I regret not informing and including our core fans in our degradation gag, as it has caused unintended confusion and disappointment,” Chosen creator Dallas Jenkins said. “But moving forward, we’re extremely excited about this campaign and are already seeing new audiences that weren’t previously interested in the show.”

Interestingly, there are aspects of the ad campaign that would have been controversial to previous generations of evangelicals, but don’t seem to have elicited much comment.

For example, words like “sucks” (or “sux”) would have been out of place in evangelical pop culture not too long ago. Indeed, the use of this word caused a sensation in the main stream press when a child says “You suck!” in an episode of Uncle Buck in the early 1990s.

Also, the video suggests that demons often ascend to heaven because they want to be like Jesus, which is a departure from the once-standard gospel belief that no one goes to heaven after being sent to hell – not humans. , and certainly not the fallen angels.

The depiction of demons returning to heaven is particularly striking in light of the fact that it calls to mind a similar plot element in Darren Aronofsky. Noahwhich some people found quite controversial at the time – and much of the hype surrounding The chosen explicitly attempted to distance the series from films like that.

The depiction of demons in the video is also interesting considering that The chosen has depicted at least two exorcisms so far, but no scene of Jesus interacting with Satan himself. At the risk of taking this video too seriously — it was clearly meant to be taken as a joke — one can only wonder what it says about the underlying theology of the show itself. Producers say video was meant to be satirical like CS Lewis’s screw letters – and certainly, describing hell as a site of vocational training fits the bill – but I don’t think Lewis ever contradicted the actual theology he was trying to teach.


William L. Hart