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Saturday, 17 November, 2001, 10:04 GMT
Church plan to 'reclaim' Christmas
Sound technician and Kevin Keegan (picture by Howard Barlow)
Kevin Keegan sings for the advert
Christian churches in Greater Manchester are promising a controversial advertising campaign for Christmas.

About 200,000 is being spent to "reclaim Christmas from beer manufacturers, Slade, and the jolly man in red".

The "Campaign for Real Christmas" will use television, radio and poster adverts, and involve celebrities like Manchester City Football Club manager Kevin Keegan.

Stephen Goddard, the director of communications for the Anglican Diocese of Manchester told BBC News Online: "We expect the nature of the campaign to be a little bit controversial.

Any slogan which induced guilt, looked like an appeal for money or just felt plain 'churchy' was immediately rejected

David Gibbens, account director

"If it provokes some 'anti' reaction that has to be a good thing - the worst thing in the world is not to be noticed."

The slogan chosen for the adverts will be revealed on 26 November.

David Gibbens, account director for CMC, the advertising agency behind the campaign, described it as a "surprisingly brave message".

Besides Kevin Keegan, famous faces in the television advert include the Sale Sharks' rugby star Apollo Perelini, athlete Diane Modahl, and North West television celebrity Jeff Turner.

Daine Modahl (picture by Howard Barlow)
Diane Modahl is one of several celebrities involved

By the time the campaign is finished on 16 December the Church hopes that 80% of Granada television's viewers will have watched the advert four times.

The central purpose of the campaign is to get non-churchgoers involved in carol services.

Thousands of invitations to services have been printed, along with special editions of St. Mark's Gospel for free distribution.

Focus groups were used to decide on a slogan for the adverts.

Negative perception

Mr Gibbens said: "Any slogan which induced guilt, looked like an appeal for money or just felt plain 'churchy' was immediately rejected."

The phrase chosen was endorsed because it "doesn't make Jesus seem religious".

Slogans which were rejected include "Come and see the original man with the beard" and "dot com all ye faithful".

More than 130 churches from several denominations have backed the campaign, which is intended to address a perception that churchgoers are "judgemental people who make little effort".

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21 Dec 97 | UK
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