The Refugee. The Rebel. That Day. These are just a few titles you may have seen in recent ads that end focusing on Jesus. But who is behind ‘He Gets Us’ ads?
In addition, these moving videos will be featured during the 2023 Super Bowl. Overall, this is the highest-spending national campaign devoted to promote Jesus…ever!
After seeing these powerful ads, many are asking: who is behind the national He Gets Us campaign? This post will dive into what the ads are all about and who is funding them.
Table of contents
- What is He Gets Us About?
- What is the Purpose of He Gets Us Ads?
- Who is Behind ‘He Gets Us’?
- Who Makes the Ads?
- Who is the Intended Audience for He Gets Us Ads?
- Is the He Gets Us Ad Campaign Successful?
- What Do the Critics Say?
- Bottom Line
What is He Gets Us About?
Every member of our team stopped in their tracks the first time they saw one of these ads. The photography, storytelling, and cinematography are riveting.
But you don’t immediately realize these are religious-themed ads.
On the contrary, they have a modern look, feel, and storyline. And don’t mention Jesus until the very end.
For example, “The Birth” tells the story of a teenage girl who gets pregnant, and her boyfriend isn’t the father of the baby.
The story proceeds to tell about the worries and difficulties they encounter, which any modern teenage mom could relate to. And then, in the final 10 seconds, we realize the story is about Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ.
The ad ends with a black background and words on the screen:
Jesus was born to a teen mom.
He gets us. All of us.
The “He” of the He Gets Us campaign is Jesus. He is someone who can understand and sympathize with hurting people. We know this because He experienced the same hurt, heartache, and challenges.
What Are the He Gets Us Ads Like?
The 30-second to one-minute ads each feature a series of stark black-and-white photos. They started running in spring 2022.
Some have a voiceover and text. Others are simply music with poignant photography.
The He Gets Us ads end with taglines such as
- Jesus felt heartbreak
- Jesus had to control his outrage
- Jesus rejected resentment on the cross
- Jesus was canceled
The final word is: He gets us, all of us.
You can also find these taglines on social media posts and billboards throughout the nation.
Bottom line, Jesus understands contemporary issues because He experienced the same emotions, trials, and pain.
What is the Purpose of He Gets Us Ads?
According to their About page, “He Gets Us is a movement to reintroduce people to the Jesus of the Bible and his confounding love and forgiveness.”
On the website, visitors can
- Watch videos
- Read articles
- Sign up for prayer or positivity via text message
- Access Bible reading plans
- Connect with someone local
- Explore their questions in an Alpha group
- And even get free gear (up to one t-shirt, one sticker, and one hat)
Ultimately, the group is out to connect people to Jesus’ message and explore His teachings. Their website clearly states that this is a starting point.
Above all, they’re creating an open space to invite anyone and everyone to engage and learn more.
Who is Behind ‘He Gets Us’?
As soon as people see these Jesus ads, they immediately wonder who is behind the He Gets Us ads and how they’re receiving funding for the marketing campaign.
Is a specific religious group responsible? Or are evangelical Christians behind it?
Let’s dive into these questions.
What Religion is He Gets Us?
Although it is Christian-based, the group behind He Gets us isn’t affiliated with a particular denomination or church.
They are self-described “Jesus fans and followers.”
The group has intentionally avoided labels and classifications. Overall, their mission is to introduce people to the authentic Jesus of the Bible who is known for love, compassion, and radical forgiveness. They haven’t highlighted any agenda beyond connecting people to Jesus and exploring a relationship with Him through prayer, Bible study, and connecting with a local church.
Some have asked specific questions like: Is He Gets us Mormon? That isn’t the case, although there could be Mormon donors in the group, which has largely remained anonymous.
According to the Catholic News Agency, He Gets Us spokesperson Jason Vanderground says that many Catholics have been involved with the development of the campaign, although, again, it’s not associated with any particular denomination.
In addition, the campaign has received positive feedback from Catholic media and the Catholic church.
Who is He Gets Us Affiliated With?
The Campaign of He Get us is an LLC (limited liability company) and a subsidiary of the Servant Foundation, a faith-based organization.
The Servant Foundation is a nonprofit based in Missouri that was incorporated in May 2000. And it’s managed by The Signatry.
According to their website, The Signatry is a ministry dedicated to expanding the kingdom through generosity. They have facilitated over $4 billion in transformational grants for nonprofits since their founding.
Who is Funding the Ads?
When it comes to He Gets Us, the campaign spokesperson has said that a group of diverse individuals and like-minded families have contributed, but wish to remain anonymous. They want the focus to remain on Jesus.
So, specific donors are challenging to identify by name. However, in November 2022, Hobby Lobby leader David Green disclosed to radio host Glenn Beck that he was helping to fund the He Gets Us campaign. He also mentioned that the ads would be featured in the 2023 Super Bowl.
David Green is the billionaire CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby – a nationwide chain of craft stores. He is also a devout Christian and has supported numerous evangelical causes over the years.
According to Wikipedia, Green donates half of Hobby Lobby’s pretax earnings to a portfolio of evangelical ministries.
How Much Money is Being Spent on He Gets Us Super Bowl Ads?
Now let’s move on to talk about how much money is being spent to get the ad plays.
Religion News Service reports that the Super Bowl ads will cost around $20 million.
And this could be just the first phase. Overall, the goal is to invest about a billion dollars over the next three years.
This really remarkable ad spend hasn’t been seen before, and has been breaking news reported in many media outlets.
The advertising budgets required to run ads during football games, and specifically, NFL playoff games, are significant. But nothing compared to the Big Game.
Many Super Bowl fans are more interested in the halftime show and commercials than the football game itself.
Plus, the game reaches millions. The 2022 Super Bowl had an estimated 112 million total viewers. If you have the financial resources, advertising during the Super Bowl makes sense as you’ll reach a mass audience and have a tremendous impact.
Who Makes the Ads?
Haven is the company behind the marketing campaign. They are a marketing, messaging, and branding firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan.
Havens’s Founder and Chief Creative Officer is Bill McKendry, and the president is Jason Vanderground. Vanderground has been the official spokesperson for the He Gets Us campaign.
According to their website, their role in this slick marketing campaign includes
- Audience and Market Research
- Creative Strategy
- Go-to-Market Campaign
- Resource Management
McKendry was recently a featured guest on the Carey Nieuwhof podcast, one of the most popular leadership podcasts among Christian pastors and leaders. During the interview, he touched on his views on marketing and also spoke specifically about the He Gets Us ad campaign and the upcoming Super Bowl ads.
Who is the Intended Audience for He Gets Us Ads?
The ads are targeted at “spiritually open skeptics.” This intended audience covers a range of people in today’s culture.
Many might be open to spirituality but skeptical about organized religion and the traditional church.
Others who have never heard of Jesus may also find themselves drawn to these powerful videos and stories.
Finally, those who have had negative experiences with religion may find themselves seeing Jesus in a fresh way.
Numerous studies have shown that attitudes toward Christianity are changing.
Shocking church abuse scandals have come to light and rocked peoples’ trust in religious leadership and the church.
Christians are also commonly portrayed in a negative light in society. They are often labeled as being bigots, intolerant, and out of touch.
By focusing on Jesus’ original message of compassion, love, and hope, the He Gets Us campaign hopes to break through these stereotypes.
These ads are intended to be a bridge of understanding between beliefs and modern life.
The He Gets Us ad campaign is aimed at connecting people who have been hurt by traditional religion to a new way of understanding who Jesus is.
As society continues to move away from traditional Christian values, He Gets Us focuses on who Jesus is and how he still speaks today.
Is the He Gets Us Ad Campaign Successful?
It’s clear that the He Gets Us ad campaign has created a lot of buzz. Although many have questioned who is behind He Gets Us, and concerns have been raised, the overall message and intention seems to be mostly well received.
The leaders of the marketing group running the campaign said they saw four and a half million actions in the first 3 weeks of the campaign. That means clicks, shares, engagements, etc. In addition, they videos have received over 500 million views.
And since that time, campaign organizers are continuing to set and measure new KPIs (key performance indicators). For example, looking at how peoples’ attitudes towards Jesus change after watching the videos. Or whether they’re more likely to read the Bible.
Only time will tell the ultimate impact of this campaign. But like anything that gathers attention, there are both fans and foes of the initiative.
What Do the Critics Say?
On one hand, those who would not identify as Christians are concerned that this campaign is funded by people with a right-wing, conservative political agenda.
In addition, although many Christians and religious leaders have voiced a positive reaction to the ads, there are also critics. Here are a few things they have to say.
Who was Jesus, really?
One criticism is that the ads present Jesus as a human example and not a divine Savior. In other words, the ads might be misleading because they fail to make it clear that Jesus wasn’t just another guy…He was God’s son and the Savior of the world.
However, the He Gets Us About page is pretty clear about their beliefs. To quote directly, they state their position as:
“People who believe he was much more than just a good guy and a profound teacher. And that Jesus is the son of God, who came to Earth, died, and was resurrected, then returned to heaven and is alive today.”
They are straightforward about Christianity’s savior and His divine nature. Jesus wasn’t just a great teacher or social activist.
Social justice vs biblical justice
Another criticism is that the campaign is pandering to the culture war. Protests and social justice issues have dominated national dialogue in recent years. And the ads feature scenes that seem to reflect this conflict, even featuring protest scenes.
Critics say the ads portray a divisive “us vs them” message. And that this aligns Jesus with the social justice cause portrayed in popular culture, but that may not be accurate as Jesus was ultimately about biblical justice.
One of the billboards and articles is specifically titled, “Jesus was fed up with politics, too.”
Although that might make some people uncomfortable, it certainly aligns with public opinion. Public trust in leaders and the federal government has been steadily decreasing.
Jesus and marketing
Another perennial debate in the Christian community is about whether Jesus should be “marketed” or what it means to “market Jesus.”
Over the years, some have drawn a close parallel between evangelism and marketing. Church marketers would define marketing as simply communicating a story.
For Christians, that means an active approach to spreading the good news of Jesus by any and all means possible. And that includes using modern technology, techniques, and marketing methods.
The stickier issue relates to the money that most forms of marketing require.
Should Christians spend a billion dollars on commercials and social media ads? Is that the best way to use the money? You’ll find a range of opinions here.
At the end of the day, these ads are about introducing people to Jesus as He is represented in the Bible. They’re only 30-60 seconds, so cannot function as a complete theological primer.
The team behind He Gets Us understands that some people who watch the ads might not fully accept who Jesus is and what He stands for. Or they might have some mistaken impressions.
But the ads’ purpose is to spark an authentic conversation about who Jesus is, who He claimed to be, and who His followers believe Him to be.
The campaign is a conversation starter.
By using modern language and visuals, the He Gets Us campaign is continuing to open doors for conversations about who Jesus is and what He stands for.
Find out more and view the videos discussed in this post at hegetsus.com/.
What are your thoughts on these ads?