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Sunday Funnies: Scientology Says It Bought a SUPER BOWL Ad!

Super_Bowl_XLVII_logoOn Sundays, we bring to you the latest fliers and mailers and e-mails that Scientologists have received as the church encourages them to donate to one campaign after another. It’s dizzying to keep up with all the requests for cash that church members get hit up for, and this week we received a lot of interesting things to choose from. We call our weekly feature Sunday Funnies. So let’s dig in!

UPDATE 8:05 PM — The “Knowledge” Ad just ran during the AFC game, as promised. See our update below.

Our tipsters really came through this week. We were just sent this first flier, which claims that not only will Scientology’s “Knowledge” ad run during tonight’s AFC Championship game, but it also says that the church has bought an ad for Super Bowl XLVII on February 3!

That’s big news, and church members are being hit up for donations to help finance the ad. But is it really happening?

Advertising in the Super Bowl is a huge deal, and the ad industry watches it very closely. Over at the Ad Age website, a very close watch is kept over every ad purchased — ads which are running about $3.8 million for a thirty-second spot this year.

Noticeably missing from Ad Age‘s list of 2013 Super Bowl advertisers, however, is the Church of Scientology. So we have to wonder, is a bogus claim being made in this mailer?



We’ll keep an eye on the Ad Age site to see if the church really has bought a spot for the big game. (Update: As John P. points out in the comments, the church may well have purchased local ads in the Super Bowl, which may not show up on the Ad Age list.) In the meantime, let’s all watch for the ad during tonight’s AFC championship between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots. Please post a report in our comments if you see the ad during the game, and make sure you let us know what city you saw it in.

As for the ad itself, the “Knowledge” spot is just the latest slick come-on that sells Scientology exactly as L. Ron Hubbard advised — as a “mystery sandwich.”

In other words, it consists of a lot of alluring images of mostly hip young people looking wistful as they wonder about the universe’s big questions. It’s intended to make Scientology look edgy and free-spirited. Here’s the script…

To the curious, the inquisitive, the seekers of knowledge
To the ones who just want to know about life, about the universe, about yourself
Not cute questions, big questions, ones that matter


To the rebels, the artists, the free-thinkers, and the innovators
Who care less about labels and more about truth
Who believe nonconformity is more than a bumper sticker
That knowledge is more than words on a page
You’re young, you’re old, you’re powerful beyond measure


And the fuel of that power is not magic or mysticism, but knowledge
The things you see, the things you feel, the things you know to be true
Sure, some will doubt you. Let ’em
Dare to think for yourself. To look for yourself. To make up your own mind
Because in the eternal debate for answers, the one thing that’s true, is what’s true for you

Well isn’t that special. But it’s funny that somehow the ad doesn’t mention that if you join Scientology, you’ll be reading nothing written by anyone but this guy…


Or that to be a real rebel and get that upper-level knowledge you crave, you’ll end up paying about $1,000 an hour for the privilege.

And that once you get to those secrets of the universe, the big reveal is that your body is infested with alien souls called “body thetans,” and that for several more years you’ll be buying more counseling at tens of thousands of dollars a throw for 1950s-era electronic exorcisms.

How edgy!

Well, perhaps that’s just too much to get into a one-minute ad.

Speaking of which, if Scientology actually did manage to buy a full minute during the Super Bowl, it would run something like $7.6 million. That’s some IAS grant!

(The International Association of Scientologists is something every church member is pressured to join. As Lawrence Wright pointed out in his book published last week, Going Clear, even with every Scientologist forced to join, the size of the IAS is only about 30,000 members, not the millions of members the church claims.)

We find particularly quaint the notion that such ventures are being paid for with IAS “grants.” It’s something we noticed relatively recently, and comes off like a concerted initiative. Perhaps because “we decided to use the thousands of dollars we squeezed out of you in a way that has no religious purpose” just doesn’t have the same ring.

Our second item is almost as hot. Marc Headley brought to our attention an exchange he had Thursday night with actor Bodhi Elfman on Twitter. Here’s how it started…


Ouch. Headley’s zinger refers to that night’s NBC Rock Center episode that featured Lawrence Wright and the subject of his book, director Paul Haggis, who NBC’s Harry Smith called the most famous Scientologist ever to leave the church and speak out about it.

Headley says that Elfman then “followed” him on Twitter so that he could send Headley a private direct message. Here it is…


After sending that message, Elfman then immediately blocked him, Headley says. But Headley responded publicly…


Well, living well is the best revenge, and the Headleys sure have things going for them now. (Jenna Elfman’s show, meanwhile, isn’t doing very well with critics. But at least Bodhi seems thrilled by it.)

Hey, remember that Harlem Night promotion at the Times Square org we told you about? If you remember, we said its $150 price tag seemed kind of steep to hear Alfreddie Johnson bloviate about the history of Scientology uptown. But now, we have to rethink our position. Just look who’s been added to the bill!


If we knew Pat Harney was going to show up in her cape, we’d pretty much have to be there.

And here’s another event happening at the New York org…

Layout 1

Meanwhile, Author Services hits the road down to Orange County, and puts on a dramatic reading in Spanish!


Hey, tomorrow night! Grab a seat as Matt Feshbach reveals the secrets of the financial world! Maybe he’ll even put on a demonstration of his Super Powers. (Long story.)


Thanks again to our great tipsters. Keep those mailers and fliers coming!

UPDATE 8:05 PM — A THIRTY-SECOND VERSION OF THE “KNOWLEDGE” AD JUST AIRED DURING THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP. Sure enough, as promised, the ad aired, and during a tight game — so it must have been seen by quite a few people!

Some Twitter reactions…










Now that’s some synergistic marketing.




Posted by Tony Ortega on January 20, 2013 at 07:00


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