How Advertisers are Marketing Church and Faith: Leveraging Lent

LentLet’s start this post with a disclaimer: I did not grow up with a strong liturgical faith background. One Wednesday in college, during first year architecture design studio, my friend Andrew got very offended when I tried to tell him, repeatedly, that he had some graphite dust smeared on his forehead. Until that point, Ash Wednesday was just a mysterious calendar label.

Through the years, I have grown to appreciate the depth of focus and intentionality that the Lenten season brings for believers. The sacrificial desire to anticipate the Holy Week of Jesus and identify in His suffering brings a challenge to my faith. Maybe my role in working with more liturgical churches has heightened a new awareness, but this year it seems, to me at least, that Lent is more commercially marketed than ever before.

Even Taco Bell has led out in Lent with front door marketing, touting their ability to make any menu item without meat. With 40 days of potential buying power, restaurants are highlighting or creating new fish-centric menu items leveraging Lent with the fast food crowd.

Here are a few questions I now have swirling in my head:

  1. Will Lent become just another holiday season with commercial appeal and lose its depth as a spiritual observance of separation for believers?
  2. Does anyone really want to eat fish from a fast food establishment?
  3. Wasn’t the term “meat” used a little liberally to begin with?
  4. Is anyone else seeing this leveraging of Lent, or is it just me?