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Advertising // Scientology campaign for Basic Book

Title: Advertising // Scientology campaign for Basic Book
Date: Wednesday, 10 May 1978
Publisher: New York Times
Author: Philip H. Dougherty
Main source:
Alternate and/or complementary: link (116 KiB)

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Having discovered that there is nothing quite like advertising for keeping an idea alive, the Churches of Scientology in 21 markets will begin on Monday a TV ad campaign for "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health," a 28-year-old book written by the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Collectively they will be spending about $650,000 during the remainder of the year, on the TV and on radio and magazine advertising, according to George Chelekis, public relations director of the New York book campaign.

He said that there were 56 Scientology churches and 200 missions and groups worldwide and each was a separate corporation. Although individual churches will be paying for the TV advertising, planning and placement is being done by Rex Associates, Elizabeth, NJ., and Jan Gildersleeve Associates, Los Angeles, two media buying services.

The religion, the leaders of which are sensitive to criticism and quick to sue for libel, is based on a philosophy that uses various counseling devices to aid its followers in gaining self-knowledge and self-awareness. It has frequently been mbroiled in controversy and less than a year ago its Washington headquarters was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which said it was looking for papers it accused members of the religion of having stolen from Government agencies in the hope of gaining an advantage in legal disputes with the Government.

Scientology is an amalgam or elements from Hinduism, Buddhism, Hellenism, Tacism and Christianity.

The commercials themselves were made by Publications Organizations, an in-house operation of the church.

In addition to TV there will be radio advertising in five markets and print ads in Cosmopolitan, Playboy and Psychology Today. Ads are already running in Apartment Life, which has proved very effective.

Put that magazine schedule together with the fact that the TV time periods will be early morning and nighttime fringe — "Today," "Tonight" and "Saturday Night" — and you have an idea who they are trying to reach. Mr. Chelekis was specific: 21 to 34 year olds, college educated, married, in the professional-managerial group with annual incomes of $25,000 and up.

* * *

"The idea is to promote 'Dianetics' (published in paperback for $2 by Ace Books) as a public service that should give them lasting peace of mind," said Mr. Chelekis.

Dianetics, regarded by some almost as a cure-all, was introduced with the book in 1950. That same year Time magazine wrote: "A new cult is smoldering through the U.S. underbrush." Newsweek was later to write that the book "planted the seed of Scientology."

Over the years the book has sold more than 3 million copies (the hardcover publisher being Heritage House) and its backers believe that this year's high-pressure ad campaign can sell a million more.

When the book was first published, supportive ads ran in The New York Times Book Review and a number of small-circulation magazines. These gave enough impetus to make it what a publication of the time called "a runaway best-seller." Then word of mouth was allowed to do its thing.

* * *

During the years that followed, individual churches and groups of churches have given the book an advertising push. Radio was used in the Middle West in the 1950's, ads an in TV Guide and Rolling Stone in 1972 and 1973. Washington got a multimedia effort in 1975—radio and daily newspapers, and last year Los Angeles mounted a campaign that moved 100,000 copies of "Dianetics," a fifth of all sold in this country in 1977.

Television's power got major test in January and February in 14 markets. Different commercials were tested, as were advertising weights and lengths of flights, or TV campaigns.

Print media included Natural History, New Times, the college editions of Time and Newsweek, Harper's, The Atlantic and Psychology Today. The trade calls their readers the opinion makers, thought leaders.

There are three other books by the founder awaiting advertising help — "Have You Lived Before This Life?" "What Is Scientology?" and "Self-Analysis," according to Mr. Chelekis.

[Picture / Caption: Recent print advertising placed by the Church of Scientology in various magazines.]