Among the most surprising Super Bowl ads? The 60-second commercial by the Church of Scientology. The $8 million commercial only aired in select major markets, but it had a big impact. Not because it was weird -- which is what you might expect from the controversial religion -- but because it wasn't.
As images of attractive, happy, seemingly normal people flash on screen, a narrator beckons, "To the curious, the inquisitive, the seekers of knowledge. To the ones who just want to know about life, about the universe, about yourself ... Not cute questions, big questions, ones that matter. To the rebels, the artists, the free thinkers, and the innovators who care less about labels and more about truth."
But this feel-good spot can't hide the real truth.
The narrator dares you to think for yourself, make up your own mind, and defy critics who just don't understand. And the ad is definitely visually appealing. It has even been compared to Apple's 1997 "Think Different" campaign. However, even that can't make people forget some of Scientology's most bizarre factoids.
- It was founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard who believed negative emotions were caused by things called Body Thetans and devised a way to get rid of them.
- They believe we are ruled by a galactic, alien overlord named Xenu.
- They require quiet or silent births. That means the mama-to-be must not utter a word.
- The church insists members that live on their compounds can leave anytime they want, but "defectors" tell a different story. Those that once lived in Scientology compounds claim they had to drive cars through gates to escape and were then relentlessly pursued.
- After leaving the religion, director Paul Haggis said, "I was in a cult for 34 years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't."
What do you think of this Scientology ad?