P&G Only Advertiser to Go Near Rick Warren’s New Venture

Follow Warren and you, too, can end up like this.

Today is the big launch of Pastor Rick Warren’s “multimedia platform.” A new web site, www.purposedriven.com, new magazine, “Purpose Driven Connection,” an online community, DVDs, you name it, thanks to Readers Digest, Rick is CASHING IN, BABY.

RDA President-CEO Mary Berner said Purpose Driven Connection is much more than a magazine. She sees the quarterly — which makes its debut today after a year and a half of planning — as just one piece of a network, and that readers become members, not subscribers.

“We’re not just launching a magazine; we’re launching a multimedia, multiplatform community,” she said. “That is absolutely at the core of what our strategy is globally and in the U.S.”

Of course, the faithful aren’t getting anything for free.

For an annual fee of $29.99, members receive the magazine, four spiritual DVDs, four workbooks and access to a social-networking website that aims to be a Christian Facebook. The magazine will also be sold in retail stores such as Walmart for $9.99, and congregations get a discounted rate of $19.99 for the entire package.

It’s nothing but blue skies — and dollar signs — ahead for America’s pastor. Oh wait, is that a storm cloud?

Purpose Driven Connection “could appeal to a variety of advertisers,” said Stephen Carlson, media director for Publicis Groupe’s Spark Communications, part of Starcom Mediavest Group, which also owns Starcom, the agency of record for Procter & Gamble.

“Inspirational lifestyle could be a big fit for a lot of people,” he said. “The community has a big following, and if you could connect with that community, there is an opportunity to sell a lot of products.”

Mr. Carlson noted, however, that “there are some things you’d have to give a heads up” about; for example, Mr. Warren supported California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage — and that this might turn off some advertisers.

In the debut magazine issue, Procter & Gamble is the only mainstream brand to advertise. It bought a two-page spread promoting its Children’s Safe Drinking Water effort. All other advertisers were Christian organizations or Mr. Warren’s own products.

Here’s a very safe bet: a boycott on Proctor & Gamble before nightfall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *