For the ninth year running, a Scientology Super Bowl ad aired this year, but although the graphics and music, pacing and use of light are very similar to previous years, it differs in one significant aspect. It seems as though most earlier ads were intended as stand-alone, timeless communications. This year’s was clearly tied to the past year’s ordeal. It begins with stark footage of empty places — streets, a classroom, a stadium — followed by a montage featuring desperate health care workers trying, and possibly failing, to save lives. It shows people isolated, and not coping, alone at home.
Then with a dramatic shift of light, tempo and music, the rest of the video is an appeal to the spiritual power of each individual, challenging viewers to strive to “Be More,” which is the title of the ad.
Both the 30-second version that aired in select markets during the Big Game and the two-minute ad that streams on the church websites and their YouTube channel, end with the now familiar question—one first posed at the end of their ad in 2018 when the church launched its 24/7 DIRECTV television network: “Curious?”
Apparently, many are. The ad generated at least two major news articles.
But, to return to the ad’s initial pandemic-inspired images, this year when viewers decide to satisfy that curiosity with a visit to the Scientology website, they are directed to a dramatic new interactive timeline of the church’s response to the pandemic, titled “20/21 a Look Back and a Look Ahead.”
Beyond what the church did to research the best preventive measures and implement them in their own churches, their outreach was truly global.
They published some 7.5 million educational booklets on how to stay well in the midst of this highly contagious and deadly outbreak. Their L.A.-based printing facility produced these booklets and prepared and shipped out more than 35,000 pieces of protective gear worn by Scientology Volunteer Ministers to distribute these booklets in their communities and by staff and volunteers to protect themselves while decontaminating their own and others’ buildings.
From Florida, home to the spiritual headquarters of the religion, to one of their newest churches in the Midwest, they measured the results of their community outreach with words of appreciation from local leaders. Down in the Caribbean, staff of the Freewinds, a ship that serves as a spiritual retreat for delivery of their most advanced religious services, safeguarded the schools and churches of Aruba with their highly effective sanitation procedures. Across the pond in Birmingham, England, their volunteers used these same techniques to disinfect mosques, Gurdwaras and churches of many denominations, so parishioners could feel safe to come for the spiritual help they needed in one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak.
One word of advice. Don’t quit exploring this timeline before you get to the end, because it concludes with their no-holds-barred response in South Africa, including taking on decontaminating government offices, orphanages, homes for the elderly, homeless shelters, police stations, buses and daily sanitizing entire fleets of minibus taxis, a major source of public transportation in the country used by healthcare and other essential workers.
All told, the church documents their response to a once-in-a-century disaster with more than 1,000 photographs and 14 new videos.