Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Atheism Update

As a personal project, I've started a campaign to promote atheism. Here's the website.

Submissions are very welcome; this is my pick of the latest batch:

I was inspired by the British Humanist Association's plan to create an atheist bus campaign.

I had a couple of meetings with them, along with the media agency, Naked, and shared some ideas, but it now looks like we won't be working together. They're a cool bunch of people, but they have decided to commit all the funds raised by their campaign to the original bus-side concept.

I still want to promote atheism in other ways; it looks like I am just going to have to do it myself, guerrilla stylee.

To that end, Scowling A.D. and I have a meeting with a very talented director tomorrow morning, to discuss shooting this script as a test:

We open in a typical large bookshop, e.g. Waterstone’s. Maybe we’re upstairs.

There are quite a few customers milling around, and one member of staff.

When the member of staff goes off somewhere, the ‘customers’ all swing into action. Each of them pulls out two or three copies of the bible (same edition), and place them on the Fiction table (there’s a sign clearly marked Fiction), then they scurry away.

We film the reactions of normal customers and members of staff, when they see this new display.

Title: DiscoverAtheism.Info

I think this could make for an amusing and thought-provoking piece of film, something akin to the style of Whopper Freakout. Incidentally, this was also written by a U.S.-based team.

I'll keep you informed of how it goes.


Anonymous said...

Surely that's a great ambient idea but is it really good telly?

God knows.

Anca said...

I particularly like the script, Simon. There's room for great execution.

We film the reactions of normal customers and members of staff, when they see this new display.

When reading this I instantly saw the scene divided in two:

-the first part revealing outraged believers (stupid faces are compulsory).

-the second containing the I-Can-See-Clearly-Now reactions, glamorously presented.

Jam said...

I wonder! To me you'd be left with two sensations:

1) Indifference (most people)

2) Outrage/chortling a la Balls Of Steel

Would either of these responses produce the kind of result you're looking for?

Sam Roberts said...

For 'justification' inspiration see Richard Dawkins on Militant Atheism.

Anonymous said...

It's rather similar to what the Ministry of reshelving is doing. They put Orwell's 1984 in non-fiction as a statement against the laws Bush pushed through in the wake of 9/11.

What could be learned from them is how they turned that idea into a meme. People where incited to do the same than post pics of the result in this Flickr pool:


Anonymous said...

Be careful Scamp. Your post went up at the same time as this:


As Harry Hill would say "Fiiiiight!"

LimitedTimeOffer said...

Most of these are taking the rather easy pot shots at literal interpretations of the bible.

How about something that attempts to address mans root desires/inclination for faith in a creator rather than poking holes in the ludicrous stuff?

Ben Kay said...

Oh dear, those God bothing ads make as much sense as believing in God.

'Why believe in God? Because I created you and I love you for goodness sake.'

Why believe in Santa? Because he brings presents to all the good little boys and girls.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how big the reactions would be to be honest- if i saw a bible on the fiction table, i'd just assume someone had put it there accidentally.
It'd be nice if consumers wandered around trying to "get" everything we do, but they don't really, do they?

Anonymous said...

Scamp, here's one for you.

No-one really knows for sure whether God exists, or doesn't exist, so an atheist's blind faith in non-existence is no more or less valid than a believer's faith in existence.

It's still blind faith because you have no evidence either way.

Of course, atheists will point to the burden of proof; that it is for the religious to prove God's existence.

But doesn't the fact that atheists feel the need to advertise on buses, or in your fine script Scamp, imply that the burden of proof has been reversed?

Maybe you're playing into their hands.

Sometimes discretion really is the better part of valor.


Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Sorry, but its amazing just how self indulgent and self righteous these sound.

Though the lines aren't bad...

Anonymous said...

So, was it your idea when it was posted with the original submissions - 'First Presentation of Atheist Ads' (13th November) or is it the work of the US team who 'also' had the idea?

Anonymous said...

Agree that most of those ads discredit organised Christian religion and do nothing to question one's faith in a higher power.

Also, I would wager you could wait all day before you get any sort of reaction from someone regarding the Bible in the fiction section. Most people who noticed would just assume it's some sort of oversight. And I really don't believe many people under the age of 60 who were raised Christian get all that riled up about religion these days.

Anonymous said...

is it just me or does this seem a bit cruel to people who take comfort from religion? I don't believe in God personally but I dont feel the need to ram my opinions down other peoples throats, just as religous people dont attempt to force me to believe. I'd say leave them alone and focus on doing spec work for charities whom you can make a real difference to like your brilliant Barnardo's campaign.

Anonymous said...

Do some proper work Scamp. Or get a job with Tony Grainger

Anonymous said...

it's just weird.

if you put stuff in a box and left it for weeks. you'd expect it to remain inert. no creation - no change.

so if something makes as much sense as the world does, i mean right down to every minute necessity, ockham's razor would lean towards it being created.

creatives railing against the concept of creation. it's interesting.

i would have thought those who interact with inspiration would be of a more spiritual bent. that lightening strike moment you talk about. inspiration. the muse.

i wonder if better, more convincing ads FOR a god might be made? attacking the outrageous ipso facto acoincidences that save us from chaos.

anyway. i think this is more an excersise in pissing christians off than anything else. and i suppose that can't be a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

agree with previous. promoting atheism makes no sense. especially in the UK. like promoting no alchohol beer. why bother. watch the movie "Religulous".

try doing your bible book store stunt in Oklahoma. that'll yield some interesting film. i guarantee it.

Philip Thrift said...

An advertisement for Atheism (i.e. an ad for "No God") seems like an odd thing when you think about it.

An ad for a negation rather than for an assertion.

Perhaps it's just a black, blank billboard.

Bentos said...

No Atheist campaign is going to convert people with faith, just like a quote from the bible on the tube is never going to have that "Oh, I see, he was his ONLY son. Right, I get it now, count me in" reaction.

The best you can hope for is a sense of recognition and fellow-feeling from an Atheist who encountered the ad, so in that sense I can see this working well.

Scamp said...

6.26 - it's not ONE bible on the fiction table it's LOTS. Hopefully people will notice.

Scamp said...

8.14 - originally was, and still is, the work of a U.S.-based team. They prefer not to give their names. The climate is very different over there!

Anonymous said...

I'm proudly atheist, and one of the things I'm proudest about is that unlike religious fundamentalists, we don't spend our energy trying to convert people to our view of the world. Your ads are trite - probably because the brief sucks.

Anonymous said...

....and then the member of staff returns and puts the bibles back where they were because he realises that some twat, who thinks he's cleverer than he really is, has messed up the display

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I agree with the approach, Scamp. What I'm seeing is jokes about the absence of God. But what motivates people here is living without the guilt of a made up moral judge. Lifting the burden of guilt from potential atheists feels like a more powerful approach.

Andy Whitlock said...

I'll keep it short because I don't want to stoke your clear desire for controversy.

But I think it's rather sad that you feel the need or spend the time to do this.

And I'm not religious.

Philip Thrift said...

Anonymous said... Surely that's a great ambient idea but is it really good telly?

[voice: comedian Steven Wright-like]

Last night I watched the Atheist Channel.

[long pause]

There was nothing on.

Anonymous said...

The idea of promoting a negation of something rather than for an assertion has been spoken of already and frankly I agree.

However in the pursuit of great advertising, here are some thought I had on the subject:

Apparently Atheism is "...an explicit position, can be either the affirmation of the nonexistence of gods, or the rejection of theism. It is also defined more broadly as an absence of belief in deities, or nontheism."

Most of the ideas you've been presenting from what I've seen have been towards Christianity in general. Isn't this being blind to the lack of belief in ANY deities or religion and not just one power? That would be my main criticism of the bible bashing thougths. If there is an idea that encompasses ALL non-existent supreme beings then this would be an idea worth looking into.

As a Christian myself I am not going to help in this search but I am torn by my love of great advertising which I don't think you have right now for the above reason.

Also, concentrating on the competition could be said to not be selling your idea but to raising questions about their 'product'. Wouldn't the best result come from an idea born from looking at the benefit of your own product?

I think that last point is a fairly old advertising argument that CD's and clients throw at creatives.

Anonymous said...

yes, you could even called it 'bible freakout' or something.
Sorry, might look good on paper, but i don't think it would ever go viral.
hasn't got the xfactor.

Anonymous said...

Whether god exists or not religious people do a lot of good. I think we should leave them alone. At least they're not persuading people to buy things they can't afford.

Anonymous said...

Scamp: "it's not ONE bible on the fiction table it's LOTS. Hopefully people will notice."

How about doing it with the Koran?

Anonymous said...

'...religious people do a lot of good. I think we should leave them alone. At least they're not persuading people to buy things they can't afford.'

Aside from the fact that they're asking people to buy the idea of God, which they can't afford if they want independent thought without repression, loads of religious people work in advertising. And besides, just as many religious people who don't work in advertising, George W, Bush and Hitler among them, are complete arseholes.

Anonymous said...

So why are we trying to tell people what they can or can't believe in again?

Anonymous said...

Even with 50 bibles on the table, I still don't think you'd get the reaction.
And then you'd have to fake it, and it'll look like those "ambient" executions you see in award annuals, where one of the creatives is always walking past in the picture looking in astonishment at the 'amazing ambient idea'.

Anonymous said...

atheism is not anti-christian. the ads are mostly anti jesus and co.

inflaming religious fervor is the worst possible way to go. see northern ireland. you will only piss people off. just a fact.

and the ads are not deep enough to trouble a believer. and therein lies the problem. you don't rationally unsell someone with faith. they have made the leap the atheists are unable to make. the believers look, perhaps rightly, with pity on the earthbound atheist and his equally doomed but slightly more annoying cousin the agnostic.

how about this. you hold a network of meetings of atheists once a week. in various pubs all over. on saturday afternoon say. and it's all done online. i bet atheists are lonely. they'd love to meet. it's the religious equivalent of being gay.

and the curious could attend. even if you want to start an anti-religion, you still have to start a religion. do what's worked for the regular religions. don't just be always at war with religion. that's tiring. be for something.

there are no short cuts.

unless of course you really, really, believe that short cuts exist.

Charles Edward Frith said...

In all seriousness no religion has flogged their idea more than this atheist pitch.

I'm still confused that God has to have two testicles,white hair and hover in the air. I'd have thought it was a lot more complex than that. Like planning say....

SchizoFishNChimps said...

Well, I think it's worth it. An Atheism campaign might not necessarily convert anyone, but it would hopefully go some way to making disinterested agnostics consider how the religious try and force their POV on the rest of us. Consider the UN movement to criminalise blasphemy and the creeping creationism that's being exported from the US.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I love your site Scamp and share many of your views but this is a really lame exercise. I mean how many religious people do you even know? If you think you're sticking it to the man you're not. I don't hold the same view on Dawkins because of his broad reach and the depth and wit of his writing. You're somewhere between Nathan Barley and Banksey on this.

Anonymous said...

Why advertise Atheism in the first place - what's it actually going to achieve?

Anonymous said...

The fiction ad was one of the top tips in Viz. Itself nicked from loads of similar jokes on the web.

Anonymous said...

At first this was advertisers offering their help to a client, who I guess was going to lead a healthy debate.

Is it just ads now? Cos that feels more pesky than convincing.