Feb 28, 2014 9:28 AM
Faith Driven Consumer: An Open Letter to Hollywood
Founder Chris Stone on Noah, Biblical Films, and Faith Driven Consumers
Paramount’s upcoming Noah movie has sparked a national conversation on Bible-themed movies and the audiences they seek to attract. People of faith generally, and Faith Driven Consumers specifically, are the core audience for Noah and other films in this genre as Hollywood’s Year of the Bible Movie gears up.
As such, our community is deeply engaged on this topic.
Faith Driven Consumer represents a movement of people whose Biblically-based worldview is at the very center of their lives; people who view every consumer purchase as an opportunity to do business with faith-compatible companies that respect their worldview and actively engage them in the marketplace.
We advocate for 46 million of these consumers, who spend $1.75 trillion annually.
To be clear, Faith Driven Consumer does not have any financial connections to the Noah film; we do not stand to benefit in any way from the expressed views of our community.
However, we remain profoundly invested in advocating for entertainment choices that appeal to Faith Driven Consumers, and are eagerly anticipating numerous Bible-themed offerings this year.
It is precisely because filmmakers are marketing a series of movies to our audience that the conversation over Noah serves as a great opportunity for our communities to get to know and understand each other better.
Our research reveals Faith Driven Consumers are a distinct and differentiated subset of the broader Christian market – comprising 15% of the American population, or 46 million people. Like other market segments, they respond to messages that specifically resonate with them in the marketplace of goods, services and ideas.
And like any consumer who is considering seeing a movie – obviously doing so without the benefit of having viewed it – Faith Driven Consumers engage in a decision making process. They read the reviews, follow media reports, watch the trailers, and talk to the people they know.
Because we serve as a consumer resource, we gathered exactly this kind of data for our community. We aggregated reviews on Noah and included links to two significant articles from The Hollywood Reporter, providing exhaustive background on the movie. We then asked our community – people who are keenly aware they are members of the target market – if they would like to voice their opinions and provide candid feedback.
Extensive and detailed reporting over six months, information provided to us by insiders in the film industry, and feedback from those who participated in test screenings of Noah, informs us that the film, as currently configured, deviates from the core Biblical message and replaces it with a modernistic, revisionist one.
On our website you can find the specific context provided and the question we asked: As a Faith Driven Consumer, are you satisfied with a Biblically-themed move – designed to appeal to you – which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?
Faith Driven Consumers responded enthusiastically as a group to the question of whether or not the film, in its current form, is of value to them and whether or not it “satisfied” their needs and desires as an entertainment option.
When it became clear that nearly everyone in the community felt the film would not resonate with them, we knew that we needed to be constructive and help the film industry understand why – at this point – this is the case. Like our organization, Paramount itself sought similar feedback from other Christian test audiences. Some people liked the film, while others expressed the same concerns that Faith Driven Consumers have expressed.
Faith Driven Consumers are hungry for entertainment choices that resonate with them. It is not our intent to separate our community from Hollywood but rather to come together in a way that unites us in a mutually beneficial relationship. If we don’t share how our community feels, how will Hollywood ever know and be able to respond?
We are asking you – the entertainment industry – to listen, to learn, to engage our group, and to benefit from a deeper relationship with a community that actively seeks to do business with brands that welcome us.
Here is what you need to know about Faith Driven Consumers: We hold a deep, daily commitment to our faith, and therefore being true to the Bible is vitally important to us. This is the driving factor behind our healthy skepticism over Noah.
The stories in the Bible are the greatest ever told. They have everything that makes a film great – tension, good and evil, love and hate, passion – all building to an exciting and riveting culmination. The Bible is raw and unvarnished; its heroes are complex and deeply flawed.
To Faith Driven Consumers, changing a Biblical story like Noah by superimposing a revisionist message does not make the story more compelling.
In the run up to The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Harry Potter movies, journalists wrote extensively about the need to remain true to the books and ensure that these films still connected with their core audiences. By respecting these audiences and the stories as told in these novels, these films did resonate and were successful business enterprises.
We know this can be done with the faith market, because it has been done before.
The recent History Channel series, The Bible, was enthusiastically received. Its producers, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, publicly embraced people of faith, were eager to respect the Biblical narrative, and connected the History Channel brand with Faith Driven Consumers. This was fundamental to the strong success of the series and bodes well for the soon-to-be released movie project, Son of God.
46 million Faith Driven Consumers continue to be positioned to contribute significantly to the bottom line of any brand that chooses to engage us seriously. We will gladly welcome those who seek to build a bridge and welcome us.
We trust this open letter will engender an even wider dialogue on the subject, and that we will be able to move forward – together – to create a successful, lasting relationship between Faith Driven Consumers and entertainment brands.
Founder, Faith Driven Consumer
Certified Brand Strategist