I remember my marketing classes in college. Well, I remember the teacher more than I remember the classes. He would never look us in the eye. It was always just above the eye . . . like at our foreheads. Nevermind that. In marketing I learned about markets and products. I remember talking “need in market,” “lack in market,” “market placement,” and, not to be forgotten, “market tolerance.” In market tolerance, we assess the culture and discern whether or not the market will bear a certain product. After all, you don’t want to put something out there that will be outright rejected by the people due to some philosophical mindset which cannot entertain or absorb the product itself. For example, I would highly advise against selling t-shirts in America which say “Osama Bin Laden is my Homeboy.” Sorry, he isn’t / wasn’t anybody’s homeboy around here. The business would flop.

We see this as well in the political arena, when ideas are placed on the market. Presidential candidates have teams of people who assess the political market, trying to find out what the “hot button” issues are, along with which ones to stay away from. It becomes frustrating when the truth gets overshadowed by “politics.” Ideals are often sacrificed for the vote. If an idea won’t go over well with the public—if it does not have “market appeal”—then it is replaced by something more palatable.

Back up two thousand years. Many people theorize that Paul (and/or other first-century Christians) invented the whole Christ story. However, those who object to this theory rightly see what an incredible marketing failure the story of a crucified and resurrected Messiah would be. Below is a letter from ANE Marketing to the Apostle Paul as he sought to employ them to market Christianity.


Thank you so much for your continued interest in ANE Marketing. We have heard a lot about you and hope to be able to do business.

Concerning your proposal about the man named “Jesus Christ” (great last name by the way!), let me start by saying this: we are very interested. However, with the proposal in its current form, we cannot justify moving forward. We have had our market analysts going over this since we received it last week and they all agree: this would be a waste of our time and, just as importantly, yours.

Let me explain:

Your proposal announces the coming of the Messiah. This part is great. So far so good. In fact, this is why we eagerly agreed to entertain your pitch. We have feelers out all across the Empire whose only job it is to look for those who are promoting Messiah figures. In your own Jewish community, the expectations (and, frankly, the need) for a Messiah could not be greater. Of the ten Messiah campaigns that have happened over the last one hundred years, our company has been involved in four. Your Prophets and Writings have created a market which not only supports such a figure, but expects him to come at any time. So, the time is ripe for Messiah campaigns.

However, as adaptive as this “Messiah Market” is these days, it simply cannot sustain what you are proposing. Not only was this Jesus Christ rejected and killed without so much a lifting a sword, he was hung on a cross! A crucified Messiah? The Jewish market expects someone who is going to release your nation from oppression. However, your Messiah is oppressed and forsaken, even by his closest followers. How do you expect us to brand and promote a Jewish Messiah who was cursed of God?! Have you forgotten your own writings? “Whoever is hung is cursed” (Deut. 21:23).  Now, if the event had not been so public, that might be one thing. But these things have not escaped anyone’s notice.

As we reviewed your proposal, confused as we were, we started to think you might have another angle. Maybe you were not attempting to appeal to those of your own nation, but to us Greeks. However, the market analysis here might even be worse than it is for your own people. Sure, we can endure the crucified part, but what is this about a “bodily” resurrection? In your proposal you say that Christ was, and I quote, “buried and rose from the grave on the third day.”

Paul, I don’t know how much you know about Greek culture, but the resurrection of the body is just about the last thing any of us want. To have a heroic godlike man is one thing, but to have his body come back to life is another. You see (and I am not saying I necessarily agree with this, Paul), Greeks think that the body (and all physical existence for that matter) is essentially evil.  The spirit is good and the body is bad. Philosophy 101. Our greatest hope is to escape from the physical existence. To say that Jesus Christ’s body was raised from the grave is far beyond the ability for us Greeks to sustain. It will not fly. In fact, you might have some riots.

In short, your proposal does not have market appeal, tolerance, or sustainability to either Jew or Greek. It would be a nightmare for our investors and, frankly, it would put me out of a job. Take my advice (unless  you want to be out of a job as well—and end up dead!): change your story. I don’t know whether you are making this up or not (that is not my job); however, if you are making it up, this version of the Christ story is a marketing failure. If it is true, fine. We still want nothing to do with it. But if it is false, it’s about the dumbest story you could possibly make up. I am sorry, I am just trying to shoot straight with you my friend. I have been in this business for a long time. (Too long.)

Looking forward to seeing an updated proposal,

Decima Romanus

ANE Marketing”

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    9 replies to "The Marketing Failure of the Christ Story"

    • Gary Simmons

      That was hilarious. Well done.

    • Bill Honsberger

      Hey I hear a rival pr firm is going with a catchy title -” Phileo Wins!”
      Maybe we could increase our market share with the ever catchy – “The Stoic Driven Life”.
      Another possibility might be “Your best Hedonist life Now”
      So many options once one gets away from all that nasty principled stuff and gets down to cash value!
      Think about it Paul
      Your BFF Decima

    • Aaron

      Brilliant. Good form.

    • Deborah

      Most excellent! Thank you!

    • […] [From The Marketing Failure of the Christ Story | Parchment and Pen] […]

    • Skaggers

      I wanted to apply some textual critisism to your post. First question, is this an original post or a copy of a previous post? If a copy, when was the original post written? If an original, was it actually penned by the author, or dictated and written by a scribe? If the latter, what type of scribe wrote it? Was the scribe meticulous, excited and a bit careless, or wanting to put their own thoughts in? If the former, what was the language and grammer skillset of the author? (Don’t worry, the joke is coming) Anyway you look at it, either this is a repost, in which the original text is correct, or there is an error in which the text on the T-shirt should read, “Osama Bin Laden WAS my Homeboy!”(Woohoo!) Now, given the evidence that in the following sentence says is/was, and more importantly the author’s self-proclaimed notoriaty for grammatical errors, I would say this is an original post, penned by the author himself. What say you?
      By the way, great post!

    • Ed Kratz

      Thanks for the added laugh. This is an original. The stamp fate accurately reflects the date written.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Having taken a few marketing courses myself…

      This was a brilliant spoof!!!

      Brilliant because it’s also very, very instructive. Well taught!

    • Piotr

      ANE changed insight and benefits and launched new brand 🙂
      But this is not orginal story….
      Great story!

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