Mercy Ministries and buzz marketing

This piece by Mercy Survivor Chelsea originally appeared on her personal blog, The Pink Propaganda, and can be viewed here.

After writing my last piece Dehumanization of Mercy Ministries’ Residents.

I went searching, wondering why they chose this line of marketing that seemed to be really dramatic in presentation and shocking in value.

Why they chose to show women overdosing and prostituting themselves and purging. All these really taboo things that people don’t talk about.

So I asked a friend in marketing about it and she referred to the term “Buzz Marketing”.I went on a very short google search to find that Mercy Ministries does in fact use buzz marketing.

They have a job opportunity available for Marketing and they ask the person to be skilled in buzz marketing. I caught snapshots of it below, in case it disappears.

The above contents of the image belongs to mercyministries.org and can be found here.

What is buzz marketing? It’s also known as Roach Baiting and Stealth Marketing. It’s a part of something called Guerrilla Marketing, The purpose of guerrilla marketing is to create a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept to create buzz and word of mouth and in the end, turn viral. [1]

It’s a marketing system where consumers do not realize they’re being marketed to. It’s a word of mouth scheme. Joe likes a product, he tells Tim. Word of mouth. However it’s how you do the marketing that is truly the sorrowful part on Mercy Ministries. We`re not dealing with shampoo here, we’re dealing with human beings.

Buzz marketing gets people to talk by doing one or many of these things. [2]

  • Taboo
  • The Unusual
  • The Remarkable
  • The Outrageous
  • The Hilarious
  • Secrets (kept and revealed)

So how does Mercy Ministries use Buzz Marketing?

They talk about the things people don’t, and often at the expense of exploiting girls stories. They talk about things like self harm, prostitution, eating disorders and in a very detailed and trivial way.

I had originally made this post with a typical Mercy Ministries testimony, but before I published it, I backed down. I felt like a hypocrite telling Mercy to stop using girls stories to gain profit and then using one myself to make a point.

My main point is, is that your stories aren’t for sale. On my blog, or Mercy Ministries. They belong to you. Those secrets are yours. They don’t belong to the world.

But if you’ve read a Mercy Ministries testimony you will know that it hits 5/6 points. It’s Taboo, it’s unusual, it’s remarkable, it’s outrageous and it is a ton of secrets. Unfortunately those secrets come at a cost to the women whose stories they use to portray their marketing.

There’s another side to this though. What about the side that says that Mercy Ministries is stealth marketing to people who are unaware of it. Taking advantage of them? Is that fair?

It’s one thing to stealth market for shampoo, but when you’re stealth marketing and tugging on people’s heart strings, making people feel sorry for women, because you want them to spread the message of your ministry, it’s a whole other ball game.

Who benefits from that? The women don’t, they’re being forced to spill their guts for sponsors and sponsors are being forced to spill their wallets for women and neither side really wants it, they just do it. Remember Buzz/Stealth Marketing is a marketing technique where consumers do not realize they’re being marketed to. That’s why it’s called stealth.

If you have a Christian Ministry and you depend on God to bring in your funds like Nancy Alcorn claims, I don’t understand why you’re spending so much time stealth marketing and manipulating people into “buying your product”. Why aren’t you counting on God for that? Or using normal marketing techniques that don’t exploit both parties involved?

I don’t feel that God would approve of buzz marketing or exploitation and manipulation, no matter how you cut the cake. It’s dishonest and in the end hurtful.

Romans 16:18  For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Written By Chelsea