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It’s Scientology TV ad season as the Super Bowl approaches — here’s what to expect

[Get ready for young people having epiphanies on your TV]

It’s always fun, this time of year, to see the reactions when people unfamiliar with the idea of David Miscavige’s PR aspirations suddenly realize they’ve seen a Scientology ad on their television, and they take to Twitter to have the mother of all freakouts.

It never fails. Each year, we see viewers go completely nuts over the idea that Scientology has paid to run a short pitch on their TV screens.

You’d think they’d be used to it by now. Five years ago, for 2013’s Super Bowl, Scientology advertised during the game for the first time. Why then? Well, we agreed with Mike Rinder that it was probably a direct result of Debbie Cook asking, in court testimony in 2012, about the money that Scientologists were supposedly paying for publicity campaigns.

Cook was a top former church official and the questions she raised in a famous New Year’s 2012 email led directly to a large exodus of people leaving the church — and no doubt made Miscavige sit up and take notice. She seemed to have a good point: Scientologists are under intense pressure to fork over huge amounts of money that they are told will be used to “disseminate” Scientology to the larger public. But what did they have to show for it? Where were the TV ads or other means of getting the word out? Only a few months after Cook made that complaint, Scientology aired its first ever Super Bowl ad.

And fortunately for us, the result has been five years of hilariously earnest TV ads that result in endless mocking on social media each year.


We’re just starting to hear from some readers that this year’s advertising season has begun — a 1-minute spot about Scientology “Volunteer Ministers” aired during some college bowl games over the weekend, and we suspect you’ll run into it at some point in the next couple of weeks.

It’s a new ad that Scientology posted to its YouTube channel on December 20, and it’s a characteristically slick piece of propaganda…


You get no sense of what Scientology is, of course, and no hint that once you dedicate yourself to it utterly, you’ll eventually be paying up to $1,000 an hour to have invisible alien life forms removed from yourself with an electronic Ouija board, and that you may be forced to rip your family apart to squelch dissent.

But we digress. We expect you’ll start seeing this VM ad pop up in the coming days, but the Super Bowl ad itself tends to be kept under wraps until just before the game itself.

And again, for the umpteenth time, we’ll try to help out other journalists who, every year, make the mistake of thinking that Scientology buys a national ad during the game and pays the going rate — which this year has soared to $5 million for a 30-second spot during the February 4 game.

Scientology has never bought a national spot. What Miscavige does is target particular markets, buying local spots during the game. During a three-hour Super Bowl broadcast, a few spots are reserved for local stations to sell on their own — one of those spots occurs right after the end of halftime as the third quarter is about to begin, and that’s when Scientology’s ad has tended to show up. One expert estimated for us that Scientology pays about $1 million to buy those local ads in several markets around the country, a lot less than what they would pay for a national spot.

Anyway, we always enjoy watching the reaction at Twitter as various groups around the nation erupt in surprise when the ad shows up in their markets. They tend to be very similar commercials, with a slick vibe that many people have compared with Apple television advertising. Here are the ads that ran in past Super Bowls. Each of these are the 1-minute versions which get cut down to 30 seconds for airing during the game itself…

2013’s ad, “Knowledge”…


2014’s ad, “Scientology Spiritual Technology”…


2015’s ad, “Age of Answers”…


2016’s ad, “Who Am I”…


2017’s ad, “Your Full Potential”…


You begin to sense a pattern here, don’t you? This is the “mystery sandwich” that L. Ron Hubbard was talking about when he gave instructions for how to sell Scientology to the unsuspecting public. Make it seem mysterious and potent, but don’t reveal any details at all verbally — beginners are told they must purchase Hubbard’s books and then begin to learn his secrets as they move up the “Bridge to Total Freedom.” It can take many years, and anywhere between $500,000 and $2 million to get to the top of that “Bridge” before reaching Scientology’s ultimate secret, the materials of “OT 8,” which we put online last year for the first time, and which you can see for no money at all.

But anyway, keep your eyes out for Scientology advertising in the coming weeks, and as soon as we know something about this year’s Super Bowl ad, we’ll tell you about it.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,983 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 129 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,192 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,966 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,740 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,086 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,580 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,620 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,332 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 858 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,947 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,087 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,407 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,382 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 738 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,040 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,146 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,549 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,422 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,003 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,508 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,752 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,861 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 3, 2018 at 07:00

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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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