For the last three years, Acton has been reaching out to readers of religious and secular publications with engaging, issue-driven advertising. These professionally produced advertisements have touched on a wide variety of timely topics including poverty, malaria, trade, environmental stewardship, and the rise of the Religious Left. The ads use arresting images and thoughtprovoking headlines and copy to pose important questions in fresh ways. This approach is very effective for reaching well-intentioned people of faith concerned about important issues, but who may not have yet formed clear social or economic positions.
One memorable issue ad carried a large image of a mosquito over the headline: Let Us Spray. The ad attacked the erroneous notion, advanced for decades by environmentalists, that the pesticide DDT was an unmitigated evil. This thinking has kept DDT out of the fight to stop a disease that kills 2.7 million people in developing nations annually. "We have a safe, powerful and available weapon to fight malaria--but we're not using it," the ad says. "So where is the moral outrage?" Not long after the ad ran, the World Health Organization issued a directive to ease the ban on DDT. Another ad that ran in the summer of 2008 showed an image of a wooden shack fitted with spewing smokestacks. The headline--Why the worst pollution comes from poverty, not industry--pointed to the need for economic growth and advanced technology to address environmental problems. Another ad promoted the debut of Acton's Birth of Freedom documentary by showing an image of the transcript of Rev. Martin Luther's "I Have a Dream" speech. Any references to faith in the speech transcript had been blacked out. The headline: Removing God changes everything.
Acton issue ads most recently appeared for several months during the summer of 2008 in Christianity Today, a major Christian publication widely read by clergy. Readers were referred to a special page on the Acton website for a deep set of resources on these issues. More than 200 people also signed up for Acton publications. Some of the other publications that have carried Acton advertising include WORLD, Legatus, the Rocky Mountain News, Crisis and diocesan papers. The Acton campaign, produced by copywriter Catherine Snow and Grand Rapids agency Grey Matter Group, earned a number of advertising industry awards for its engaging style and effective messaging.