Direct Gospel Message, the first mass media missionary campaign conducted by the Church in continental Europe, began in Frankfurt and is resulting in many "quality" referrals.
Different advertisements offering the audiocassette tape "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" ran four consecutive weeks in three Frankfurt newspapers and one magazine, in five Paris publications and in Madrid newspapers. In Madrid, the print ads supplemented radio spots that aired on eight stations twice daily for four weeks.By April 21, the ads were credited with 3,000 requests for the tape in Germany, 1,700 requests in France and 2,000 in Spain, according to Michael Obst, Direct Gospel Message project manager, who is coordinating the program under the direction of the Europe Area presidency.
Alain Marie, director of the Church's Public Communications office in Paris, is working under Obst to spearhead the program in Paris and Madrid.
Combined exposure of the advertisements in the three countries is expected to be about 5 million people, Marie said.
Direct Gospel Message kicked off Feb. 13 in Frankfurt and ran until March 18. (It was delayed a week by a printers' strike.) In Paris, the ads began Feb. 27 and ran four consecutive weeks. The Madrid campaign started April 3.
"In all three locations, we have made interesting contacts with people who otherwise would not have talked with us," said Obst. "It has really helped to bring the Church out of obscurity. And it has had tremendous impact on the members. Many in Frankfurt have caught the missionary spirit and are working with their friends. The same is true in Paris. In Madrid, they have had marvelous success. The members in Spain are so excited they have created their own posters to follow up with.
"We have had great support from the area presidency, and from all the local leaders. We've also had a close working relationship with the Missionary Department and Bonneville Media in Salt Lake City."
Added Marie: "The Church in Europe, and especially France, is a well-kept secret. This program was initiated by the Missionary Department and approved by the area presidency. Bonneville Media Communications, the Church-owned media production company, produced the tapes and helped produce the ads. After the advertisements ran, a telemarketing company handled the calls."
Requests for the tape have led to referrals, discussions and baptisms. In Germany, about 20 percent of people asking for the tape agreed to a visit from missionaries and/or members. "Whenever appropriate, a first discussion was taught," explained Obst. "We also set up a five-step plan where members were asked to place a tape with a friend."
The referral rate in Paris and Madrid was about 30 percent.
As part of the follow up, missionary events are being organized by wards and branches with the videocassette "Heavenly Father's Plan" as the focus.
Thousands of fliers promoting the tape also were distributed, Marie added. The fliers have generated about 10 referrals from every 1,000 distributed.