Jesus and Che Guevara shared profiles for the second time in last year’s Christmas campaign by the Churches Advertising Network in the UK. Jesus was portrayed as a revolutionary hero in the 1999 Easter campaign, provoking protests by many Christians. “Meek, Mild, As If?” ran the tagline on the red poster featuring Jesus in a crown of thorns. This time the the black and white image of a baby’s face was placed on the revolutionary poster. The text: “Dec 25th. REVOLUTION BEGINS. CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF A HERO”. Viewers were invited to interact with the concept by sending an SMS. “JESUS? TXT HERO OR ZERO TO 81 025 OR VISIT WWW.REJESUS.CO.UK“.
The posters were placed in railway stations and billboards around the UK. Churches Advertising Network supplemented the print campaign with a series of radio spots asking questions and inviting response by SMS.
Jesus: baby or revolutionary?
Jesus: black or white?
Christmas: baby Jesus or turkey?
Jesus: God or refugee?
Get rid of Santa or Jesus?
“Jesus”: swear word or name?
Did Jesus bring peace or war?
The Reason for the Campaign of the Season
Chas Bayfield, who worked on both the 1999 and 2005 campaigns, explains the reason for abandoning the traditional image of baby Jesus in Bethlehem and going for something close to Che Guevara instead.
“We wanted to take Jesus out of the nativity play and portray him as a modern day hero. The poster shows the Christ of Christmas as a baby, but also as the revolutionary he became.”
But most of the revolutionaries of the 20th century used violence to achieve their aims and caused the deaths of millions of people. So why show Jesus in revolutionary red?
Says Chas Bayfield: “His attitudes and behaviour were revolutionary. He treated women with respect. He spent time with thieves, conmen, hookers and the disease-infected underclasses. He was defiant, yet loving. He was an outlaw, seen as a political agitator, a man hunted and hated by the authorities. His revolution was one of love, respect and hope. In everything he did, Christ was a revolutionary. We wanted to contrast Jesus with the revolutionaries of the 20th century, to make people reconsider what makes a person revolutionary.”
Chas Bayfield is lead singer for Bite The Stars.