Though some were shocked, simply shocked to see fleeting moments of sexual congress (one involving a guy in a Santa suit), other Christians have embraced the movie’s message.
“Les Miserables” is booming at the box office, and that financial success can in part be traced to a group of its biggest boosters: Christians, particularly evangelicals whom NBC Universal went after with a microtargeted marketing strategy.
The story in “Les Miserables” is heavy with Christian themes of grace, mercy and redemption. The line everyone seems to remember is “to love another person is to see the face of God.”
NBC Universal looked to capitalize on those components and promoted the film to pastors, Christian radio hosts and influence-makers in the Christian community…
…“If you’re a Christian and you’re seeing this film, you can’t help but see these themes,” said Jonathan Bock, founder and president of Grace Hill Media, the firm hired for the targeted marketing campaign.
“We were targeting specifically people who had a bully pulpit,” Bock said. His company’s goal was to draw Christians who would “be impacted by it and then tell anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of people what they just saw.”
Bock’s firm has worked on marketing campaigns in the faith community for hundreds of television and film releases, and normally, the screening invite-to-attendee ratio is 4-to-1. “This movie, we booked at 1.4-to-1, and we had turn-aways in every single market. Almost everyone who signed up showed up for the movie,” he said.
“There’s a great deal of awareness about the movie itself, and the great thing is that the movie itself delivers,” added Bock, ever the marketer.
Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family was one of the groups that partnered with Grace Hill Media for a special screening. For the event, Focus on the Family brought in partners from across Colorado, adoption agencies, child welfare officials and church leaders.
“We’re trying to raise awareness for the needs of kids, particularly in the foster care system who don’t have any families. We love to come alongside them and welcome them home, and for that reason, we loved the movie,” said Kelly Rosati, vice president of community outreach for Focus on the Family. She oversees their adoption and orphan care initiative.
A movie like “Les Miserables,” she said, “is able to engage the heart in a way straight facts and calls to action can never do.”