In past years, by now Scientology had already played its big Super Bowl ad a few times during playoff games, and posted it to one of its YouTube channels. But for whatever reason they’ve kept this year’s ad under wraps, playing it only once that we know of — during their New Year’s event in Los Angeles (which was actually held December 17).
Just to review, in case you are catching up: For the past five years, Scientology has run ads during the Super Bowl with a particular strategy in mind. The church doesn’t buy one of those incredibly expensive national 30-second ad slots that this year will cost about $5 million each. Instead, during the long game broadcast there are a few slots reserved for your local broadcaster to sell. Scientology tends to buy those slots, and only in particular cities.
We’ve consulted experts in the past who told us that the church ends up spending about $1 million for its ad, not only saving some money over a national spot but also so Scientology leader David Miscavige can reward some cities and slight others, depending on where he purchases the local ad spots.
In past years, the ad has tended to show up during the pre-game festivities, and also at the very end of the halftime, leading into the third quarter. We enjoy watching Twitter after the ad plays to see the reactions. They tend to be precious.
This year, as we said, we haven’t had a chance to see the ad. But we did hear it, because we were leaked an audio recording of the New Year’s event, and in that recording we could hear Miscavige play the ad for the crowd.
So we got an idea. All of these recent Super Bowl ads seem to have been made for Scientology by the same outfit and with the same slick look. And they all tend to have the same general feel as far as their narration. We wondered what it would look like if we took the audio from the 2017 ad and laid it over one of Scientology’s previous Super Bowl ads.
We think you’re going to find the result pretty entertaining….
There are words to describe every step we take
Words for the joy
And the sorrow
And the triumphs
The defeat that pushes us into the shadows
And the inspiration that brings us back
But through all of life’s journey
There’s no language adequate to describe
The ultimate heights you can attain…
Your full potential
Works pretty well, doesn’t it? Which just goes to show you how formulaic these ads are, as slick as they seem to be.
And also, that they actually tell you absolutely nothing about Scientology itself, or how it works.
As in past years, we expect to see a lot of shock and disgust from viewers who record their reactions at Twitter. And we will hear from people who want to know, does Scientology really think it can recruit new members with this kind of ad?
It’s important to remember that the real target of these ads are Scientologists themselves, particularly the wealthy donors who David Miscavige tries to convince are expanding the church with their donations. Having a slick ad play during the Super Bowl helps to convince them that they are the “fastest growing religion in the world,” when the opposite is true.
James Packer’s tough times
Vanity Fair’s William D. Cohan has a very good piece that details what a roller coaster 2015-2016 turned out to be for Australian billionaire James Packer, who was involved in Scientology from about 2001 to 2006.
Packer had big plans for expanding his casino empire in Macau and Las Vegas, and his film company, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, a partnership with Brett Ratner and Steve Mnuchin, had been cranking out hits. As we reported last year, Packer had hired his old pal, former Scientology mouthpiece Tommy Davis, to help him with RatPac and other North American investments.
But then things really took a dark turn for Packer. His engagement with singer Mariah Carey fell apart, 18 of his employees were arrested in China for trying to lure high-rollers to his Australian casinos, and RatPac had some bad luck, including taking a bath on Ben Affleck’s flop, Live By Night.
As a result, Packer has pulled back on his casino expansion plans, retreating to his existing casinos in Australia, and there are rumors that he may be pulling out of RatPac. (Mnuchin has announced that he’ll be divesting from the company if he is appointed Treasury Secretary.)
We’re asking for some help from our tipsters: We’ve heard some rumors that in all of the chaos in Packer’s life right now, his old friend Tommy Davis may have been affected. We’re interested in confirming some things we’ve heard. Please drop us a line if you know something.
Chris Shelton interviews Steve Cannane
Says Chris: “This week I interview Steve Cannane, journalist for ABC and author of Fair Game, an amazing book about Scientology’s history in Australia. We discuss the research and writing of his book, how he got involved in covering Scientology as a journalist, how Scientology is like a microcosm for so many other things going on in the world and where this whole thing is going.”
Bonus items from our tipsters
Costa Rica has its first OT 8! Beatriz Martinez, ED of the mission there, was given a grand send off as she went to the Freewinds to attain Scientology’s highest level.
Hey, girl. Running around a pole all day has my, er, pole all aglow.
Hubbard College of Administration International Los Angeles actual caption: “Manager of Peter’s Choice Nutrition Center and Wise member Bette Brice donated 2 dolls for students to do drills with. Thank you so much Bette!”
Only in Clearwater are you likely to see this many Scientologists in the wild.
Sacramento actual caption: “40 YEAR VETERAN SACRAMENTO STAFF MEMBER SHARON DAMIATA JUST ATTESTED TO THE STATE OF CLEAR!”
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
Scientology disconnection, a reminder
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,653 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,250 days
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,002 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,587 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,757 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,077 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,052 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 408 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,710 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 817 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,178 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,422 days..
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,531 days.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield