If you had your ear to the social media ground over this past weekend, you undoubtedly heard of, or potentially read, the many tweets and posts about Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” and the accusations pinned against Bell as being a universalist. Justin Taylor, a blogger with The Gospel Coalition, posted a blog in response to the short description of the book and a short video both released by HarperOne (A subsidiary of Harper Collins), the publisher, very pointedly questioning Bell’s theology and begging the question is Bell a universalist. John Piper even jumped on board with the following tweet:
Hear this: this is not a post to argue for or against what Bell is, or is not, saying. Personally, I have not read the book. Few people have as it has not yet been released. I can make assumptions based upon the released description and video, but I ultimately cannot say, for certain, what is espoused in the book by Bell and how that lines up with solid biblical theology. This is not a post on what I think about the whole fiasco. Read on.
As a creative communicator, what I can say is that the marketing strategy is genius. HarperOne has successfully perked the interest of the American Christian subculture. As a result, many eyes and ears are tuned into the release of the book and what Bell has to say. Doubt me? Why else would Rob Bell be one of the top 3 trending topics on twitter over the weekend? Yeah, his name was all abuzz in the social media world.
It has been said that negative publicity is better than no publicity at all. While most of us take aim at gaining positive attention or publicity, we need not ignore the influential, curiosity sparking power that negative attention can muster. Please do not hear me saying that we should go seeking smut and bad publicity in our marketing campaigns. That would be a swing in the wrong direction. However, I do want to draw attention to the creative genius that came up with this strategy as, I believe, it has accomplished exactly what it was intended to do, namely to draw attention to the release of Bell’s book this month. HarperOne has, within just a few days, created an incredible amount of momentum leading in to the release of the book. As a creative, regardless of whether I agree or disagree with the content of the work (which will be determined when I personally read the book), I applaud the strategic and creative approach that the marketing team at HarperOne has taken to create momentum.
Those who have already vehemently written Bell off, will read the book to validate their position and to know that they are right (or realize they were terribly mistaken).
Those who, like me, are curious to know what Bell actually is proclaiming as truth will read the book for the sake of discovery and comparison to biblical theology to draw our own conclusions.
Blind followers of the Christian subculture will read the book because everyone is talking about it all the while mindless as to why exactly they are reading it.