People are still hungry for meaning. They don’t come to church for it because…?
«But today’s advertisements are designed to evoke different and more numinous emotions: spiritual well-being, an inward journey, a moral sensibility. We’re buying the very things that organized religion used to provide us for free.
These new takes on advertising can draw controversy, as when Nike celebrated Colin Kaepernick’s decision to “Take a Knee” to exhibit his support of the Black Lives Matter movement (“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”), garnering the wrath of more than a few white evangelical pastors. Chick-fil-A has donated to anti-LGBT-marriage groups. Companies are increasingly tailoring their advertising, using political advocacy or activism to sell themselves as moral arbitrators. They are selling not just products but values.
In so doing, these brands are selling meaning as a product, reframing capitalist consumption as a religious ritual: a repeated and intentional activity that connects the individual self to its divine purpose, or at least a set of meaningful values. For the 36% of young millennials who identify as “religiously unaffiliated” — a demographic that strongly leans progressive left and tends to respond to the narrative ad language of social justice — commercial brands offer a vision of spirituality that’s linked, often, both with personal self-improvement and wider social utopianism.»