Jesus Is

Inviting a city-wide conversation about the most controversial individual in the history of the world… it’ll be fun, they said.

Type: Marketing campaign; marketing site/app
My role: Lead designer; developer

Inviting a conversation

I served on a small panel team that would both drive creative and execution for the campaign – which had a modest budget and a big goal: invite a city-wide conversation about Jesus. Off the bat, we knew it would be a challenge.

The first thing to do was figure out how to even bring up Jesus, the most controversial person in history without offending. I came up with the idea of adding a blank to “JESUS IS” to invite people to mentally fill it in. We wanted it to be a question that would stick with people, so we also took cues from the timeless “Got Milk?” identity for the logotype.

A customizable answer

If we were inviting a conversation, we needed a place to host it, and a way for people to literally fill in the blank if they wanted to. I set out to build a light-weight web app that could capture people’s opinions. After a couple of quick design iterations, I landed on a tiled presentation, where each answer (fill-in) would be its own tile, and have either a randomized or customized background.

I used a familiar CMS framework and contracted a developer to help with some of the heavier lifting, especially the homepage, which selected from the pool of approved answers and randomly rotated them through 11 spots – with one kept empty. The effect showed how different people’s opinions are, but how beautiful they can be when combined.

Because the site invited answers from anyone, I also built a moderation and approval mechanism and workflow for someone to monitor. As you can imagine, that wasn’t always an easy job, particularly when the community on 4chan got wind of the site.

During the official campaign period, the site received over 160,000 submissions, and it’s still active today. The JESUS IS ____ brand is also still being used for books and other resources.

Cultural relevance

I was also surprised and humbled by how the community adopted the idea and made it their own. Over the years I’ve spotted several lookalikes and iterations, and they always bring a smile to my face.

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