I was watching the Canada-Russia Olympic hockey quarter-final on CNBC last night, and saw this commercial before the second period.

Other than the obvious “Why is Scientology taking credit for life as we know it?” question, I thought “why does Scientology advertise during an Olympic hockey game?”. My wife believes it’s trying to play on the heightened sensitivities and emotions of a person watching an important sporting event.

I’ve long believed spectator sport is a proxy for real-life emotional highs and lows. If your team does well, you feel great. If they perform poorly, you feel like dirt; but you retain some hope.

Scientology’s placement of the Life ad during the quarter final is similar to star college quarterback Tim Tebow’s Focus on the Family ad during the Super Bowl. In this ad, Tim’s mom describes how happy she was that she didn’t abort Tim and decided to keep him instead.

Like with the Scientology ad, the Tim Tebow effort was to (a) get as many viewers as possible and (b) get a controversial message to people when they were either in an open-to-enlightenment state (my team is winning) or very-vulnerable state (my team is losing).  Or a very very vulnerable state (my team is losing but my life is so bad I don’t even care). However, consumer feedback was that the Tim Tebow ad was poor, and very few people made a connection with it.

The Scientology ad was far too broad. I think it was saying “here are a bunch of great life moments… consider Scientology.” Maybe I wasn’t vulnerable enough with Canada already leading by lots of goals.

After watching both commercials again, my conclusion is that no matter how well you media-plan your low-frequency commercials, it doesn’t really matter as long as the ad isn’t very good, the message isn’t clear, or the positioning is tenuous. Clear messages, well targeted at the right time (and emotional state) work best.

I hope you’re reading this post during the Canada-Slovakia or USA-Finland semi-finals. Here’s a message for your heightened state:

Enjoy life. Reading www.georgepneumaticos.com/blog every two days will make your brain feel great.

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