By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published December 9, 2010
The invitation—the one that asks all to “come home to the Catholic Church”—is coming soon to a TV near you.
Catholics Come Home Georgia, the joint evangelization effort of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Diocese of Savannah and CatholicsComeHome.org, will launch the first television ads beginning Dec. 17 and continuing through Jan. 23, 2011. The media campaign, which reaches out to inactive Catholics and others with an invitation to return to or learn more about the Catholic Church, includes compelling commercials that will air on all major networks and cable stations in the state. The professionally made commercials were developed by Roswell-based nonprofit CatholicsComeHome.org.
Deacon Steve Swope, assistant director of diaconate formation, has been leading the initiative for the archdiocese, which includes fundraising, development of parish materials and a website to support the evangelization outreach. Fundraising, he said, is “going well,” and the “initial funding is mostly in place to conduct the campaign.” The Catholics Come Home Georgia website is up and running. And parish staff and members from some 70 churches attended training sessions during November on making preparations for the people who call the parish with questions after seeing the commercials.
In Atlanta, he said, the commercials will appear during ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN and FOX programming, among others. In the northern counties of the state, the Comcast and Charter cable companies will air the commercials, which will also appear on Spanish stations.
He said, “In all, we will be airing 30-second, 60-second and 120-second spots … close to 5,500 commercials. It is a lot of coverage.”
For those who want to watch for the commercials, Deacon Swope said that they are targeted to air with the morning news through prime time. A few will air overnight, he said, but most will air during the day. The ads will run during shows such as: “The Today Show,” “Oprah,” morning news programs on CBS and ABC, “Rachael Ray,” “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” “Dr. Phil,” “Primetime,” “The Tonight Show,” as well as shows on HGTV and ESPN.
“It’s far reaching,” said Deacon Swope. “We’ll get lots of coverage. We anticipate that 90 percent of the 9 million citizens of Georgia will see at least one commercial.”
Tom Peterson is the founder and president of CatholicsComeHome.org, the lay organization that uses modern media to share the Gospel of Jesus with the world. In addition to developing the commercials with his production team, he and his organization worked with the archdiocese to create a media plan for the commercials. He said, “God gave us the talents,” and he serves the church with those talents. With years of experience in media advertising, Peterson and his staff were able to propose an effective ad schedule for programming in Georgia.
Deacon Swope said that CatholicsComeHome.org also negotiated with individual broadcasters, “running the process of helping us do the media purchase.”
He added, “We think we’re getting a good value.”
Other dioceses in the U.S. have partnered in the past few years with CatholicsComeHome.org on similar campaigns, which have yielded good results. For example, according to reports obtained from CatholicsComeHome.org, following their own campaigns, the Diocese of Phoenix had a 12 percent increase in Mass attendance, the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, had a 17.7 percent overall increase, the Archdiocese of Chicago had an 8.1 percent increase, and the Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington, had a 4.5 percent increase.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory believes that this campaign is a positive one for the Catholic Church in Georgia. He is impressed with the commercials and believes “they will capture the imagination of the viewers. I believe they will generate a lot of positive reactions from those who see them.”
He said, “I hope that they will serve as a welcome and intriguing invitation to come back home for those who may be disconnected Catholics and anyone else who might be interested in learning more about the Catholic Church.”