It’s been a bad few years for the Church of Scientology. Germany moved to ban the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard. Then Wikipedia banned Scientology IP addresses from editing its pages. And finally in June the St. Petersburg Times wrote a scathing three-part series on the church and its current leader, David Miscavige.
This led Dan Neil, the Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize-winning auto critic to reflect on the church’s new TV spots. He writes:
All of which has left the church with a smoldering crater where its public image ought to be. And yet, the church didn’t get to be La-La Land’s Holy See for nothing. In May the church launched a series of new commercials, and they are nothing short of brilliant. Sleek, chill and nonthreatening, these ads are visually beautiful, with a kind of tonal waveform of celestial bliss that invites fellow questers on a journey of self-discovery. “Scientology: Know yourself. Know life,” the tag line runs. Well, who wouldn’t want a piece of that?
The pleasure of these ads derives from their glossy cinematic execution, of course—the cerulean monotones, the exquisite jib camera work, the husky, hunky voice-over, the tranquil soundtrack (think U2 jamming with Vangelis).
But it also must be noted that, finally and surprisingly, the church with the greatest affinity for and proximity to Hollywood has finally turned up a decent branding spot. I mean, these are the people of the exploding volcano.
If these spots were produced in-house, somebody’s thetan deserves a case of beer or something.
To be clear, I’m no fan of Scientology, and what I’ve read of its cosmology—the whole tale of Xenu—sounds like a rejected “Star Trek” script to me. Still, I kind of love these ads, or at least their perfect cynicism.
Read the rest of Dan Neil’s column here.