Atheists have a marketing problem. In a world where religion has a practically infinite social inertia the idea that there isn't a god and that we are the masters of our own destiny is not just a hard sell, it's inconceivable for many. Richard Dawkins and others have started marketing campaigns to introduce this novel idea to those who would not otherwise think about it. Are these campaigns working? That is anyone's guess at this point.

SETH GODIN is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change (taken from his blog). He has written books and given talks, like this TED talk, which explain why some ideas spread more efficiently than others. He states that "ideas that spread, win." This is an obvious truth. It is also an obvious truth that the world has invented innumerable religions but the dominant ones that we are left with today are successful because they were the best at spreading. Why these religions are so well adapted for spreading has been much discussed elsewhere. What we need to do, if we have an idea that we want to spread, is identify how to market our idea so that it becomes as viral as the religions we wish it to replace. We must also recognize that if it isn't spreading then perhaps the problem is not the audience but the idea.

Seth argues that today there are so many ideas and products being marketed that people have learned how to ignore them. The things which get noticed are not necessarily the best but they are the ones that are remarkable, that stand out. Seth also argues that marketing to the masses is alright if you have an enormous budget but this is a mistake because that is the market which is best at ignoring your message. The best audience to market to, he argues, is the small group of people that are passionate about the subject because they will spread your idea themselves.

Let's consider what Seth Godin would do. How would he market atheism if he wanted to promote that change? Is atheism even a marketable idea? If not, what is? That is a much discussed subject in the context of identifying what we, as individuals, stand for. I think that it needs to be identified not simply for self identity but, more importantly, for marketing.

Let's also consider advertising strategies. Absolutely anyone can market an idea today, if they are clever. Setting up a website is trivial. Viral "word of mouth" marketing gets you your audience. The trick is to create a site that is remarkable to passionate people. Bill-boards are nice but they are expensive. Are there other options?

Let's brainstorm. How can we market our message in a better way? What is the message we need to promote to accomplish our goal?

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True. Religion in itself isn't such a negative thing but when it creates a class system, influences government policies and turns people away from each other it needs some opposition. We could just sit back and be satisfied with having practically no political power and allow the religious to dismiss us as immoral fanatics but a basic facet included in religion is expansion. If atheists merely stood still these groups would happily scoop up the undecideds and the vulnerable.
I recently listened to a skeptical podcast talking about debunking psychics and they got into a great discussion about the benefits offered by the psychic experience. They cautioned skeptics about destroying the faith of people without offering a 'safety net'. Some people truly need to believe that psychics have these powers or they need an alternative to fill that need.
The same can be said about religion for some people. We have to convince people that reason is enough and that there is an atheist community that will function as a social network in place of the religious community. I've heard a lot of marginally religious people claim that the fellowship of the church is the main reason they choose to follow an organized branch. Atheists need to get more connected and more clever about replacing the psychological crutches that religion offers.
Atheists need to get more connected and more clever about replacing the psychological crutches that religion offers.

Nicely put.
One way to counter that is to show how we have something to offer them on many levels: socially, intellectually, emotionally, even spiritually (yes, I used that word).

Nothing wrong with that word on the end, perfectly cromulent word there.

I agree that you don't need religion to have those things. This is where we should be aiming our sights. That community not just a religious thing but an element of being human, and of wanting to be around other humans.
Civilization is heading towards Atheism anyway but we can speed this process up. We need to be visible and we need to be an example. We all need to do these little things. I'm trying my best every day.

My facebook profile is pretty private yet what everyone can see is my religious views: Militant Atheist. I am very outspoken about it in day-to-day life. I live in secular London but I live "in the ghetto", most of my friends are religious, usually Christian. I know Bible well so they are easy to challenge. Few verses they weren't aware of and in no way would agree with, a conversation about roots of religion... With the most religious ones I don't challenge the belief in god itself but organised religion. I "spread the word" daily. It actually works. People come back and want to learn more.
I show a "pretty face" of Atheism but also the "good" one. I'm helpful, honest and I get people to do "good". I'm a blood and bone marrow donor and I "preach" about this too.
And of course I've made several people read "The God Delusion"...
agatka: "I'm a blood and bone marrow donor and I "preach" about this too"

Thats impressive! Donating marrow is no walk in the park. From what I hear it hurts like crazy!
I'm new, but came across this and found it interesting. Rather than thinkng about organizing using a religious model, couldn't the model of service organizations be considered instead My neighbour is very active in Rotary, speaks of it often, participates in a number of charitable activities through it and lobbies the community for action on a number of issues, never once bringing up any mention of God, and people think it is wonderful.

Similar in nature is my regret that Seinfeld got one of the greatest names for an atheist charity ever-The Human Fund. Some of the more classical presentations of atheism, which bring to mind the noble ideals that humans can aspire to in helping other humans, combined with some of the astoundingthings that science is now revealing, can provide an atheist signpost to the experience of transcendence, as mentioned by Hitchens.

That sense of connection, of unity, of becoming more than the sum of our actions and creating meaning that will live after us, all of that would prove very attractive to a number of people who might be seeking it in religion (and typically getting fleeced by those who know better). There are more and more people who want to contribute and "give back" to humanity who don't see the churches as being the best stewards of their time and money and who would love a solid alternative.

Indirect marketing of atheism, linking it to these other actions and motivations could go a long way to making it more attractive.
Maybe if we involved ourselves in non religious activities and did good people would see that you can do good without being religious and then they'd start to see religion as something volatile that can harm humanity? They'll see it as unnecessary.
Nevets Sdoow mentioned Seth MacFarlane. Family Guy really *is* an atheist commercial ad ... of sorts. It mocks religion. Religionists know it, and they've attacked Family Guy on other fronts. Palin attacked his mocking treatment of Downs' Syndrome later defended by the voice-actress who *is* a Downs Syndrome woman and enjoyed the skit and thought Palin a prude.

Some Religionists consider *ALL* forms of secular entertainment to be anti-God or Godless. Some even consider religious rock music that is not explicitly about Jesus Christ or their cult interpretation of Christianity to be Anti.

In that sense, Atheism is already doing quite well. What seems to be difficult so far is to have a very serious public conversation about Atheism.

That seems like trying to talk about a sort of "doctrinaire" Atheism, which sounds tiresome.

I don't care much if other people believe in a deity, it's the tendency to believe in really irrational things about this deity (oxymoron, I know) and then apply these to not just their own daily life but to the public sphere and politics. Politicians seen as religious can get away with murder --- literally --- if their positions and actions are defended in religious terms. Some religionists cannot stop themselves --- or make their central tenet --- saying nasty things about non-religionists.

One of the links that got me here was a story on Talk2Action about Sarah Palin's Wasilla Church which is attacking conservative Christianity. So weird they are that even their more established Assy of God parent group denounced them for promoting all sorts of heretical and extremely nonsense ideas, even beyond AoG. That is a group that wants to seize power and use it to not only promote their ideas but to engage in WARFARE --- spiritual warfare, but physical warfare too, destroying other people and their "idols", including of course any "enemies", which are seen as literal demonic beings --- with the world.

At least some of the news media --- Olbermann, Maddow --- highlighted this a bit and raised awareness of the threat of launching a new Inquisition or Braintree Witch Hunting spree. I'm more concerned about marketing in opposition to dangerous irrational cults and dangerous irrational ideas and movements than outright stamping out people's personal gods and community stuff.

Unfortunately, I'm probably a bit naive in thinking that the less-offensive mainstream churches do not also promote corrosive and sometimes violent ideas. Maybe my response was a bit vague, so please forgive me, this is my first post.
I love Maddow and Olbermann! Maddow often shed alot of light on the religious crazies. She reminds me of a favorite professor whom you always attend the classes of because you enjoy it so much! I liked her coverage of C street.
Agreed. Two of my majors are PR and marketing and I give this alot of thought. I actually dont think it should be a hard sell on campuses. I know alot of atheists and I wasnt even looking. In one of my philosophy classes about 8 out of 10 identified as atheists, not agnostics but atheists! Alot of them werent even philosophy majors! I can say the same for my poli sci classes. All this and I live in Colorado!I think atheists need to start at the campus level and have it trickle down. I also think we need alot of money support. I think exposing the christians in America would do alot to make people think twice about what religion really is with a particular emphasis on how radical theyre getting today. We should focus on my gen (gen y) because alot of them dont identify as religious.
One of the problems I see, is the fact that our language, (English that is), is dripping with religious terms and ideas - some more obvious than others.

Take the parting greeting good-bye. It means: "God" be with you (ye is the olde you).

In the news media, I am often confronted with the notion that such-and-such a close shave was a miracle, and a child born under very difficult circumstances is termed a miracle child.

If one sneezes, it is common to say 'bless you'. Who is doing this blessing, in whose name, and what is it? Lots of people call themselves blessed, when I would call them simply fortunate, or hard working.

People will say that "God" works in mysterious ways, where I would just say that truth can be stranger than fiction.

People tell us that they will pray for us, or say 'you're in my prayers'. I wonder, or is it just something some people say instead of: 'I hope the best for you' ?

There must be loads more examples. I sometimes think, we should challenge a newspaper, if it reports the survival of some accident victim as a miracle. How in heck do they know that?
Atheism, like American automobiles, suffers from a general bad feeling in the minds of most people. The same way ford and gm have gradually built a better rep with quality and features, price, atheism needs the same with outstanding people over a period of time proving that we we are right. All the ideas ive read are good and need to be done but no one thing will do it for us. We also need to avoid any bad pr for as long as we can. Nobody go on a killing spree ok

Sorry if the car comparison was lame :)


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