Launch Pad: Crashing a Marketing Campaign
Who is God? What is worth fighting or dying for? Can different religions coexist? These were just a few of the questions that French filmmakers Jules and Gédéon Naudet set out to answer in meeting with some of the world’s most revered spiritual leaders for their television documentary “In God’s Name,” which aired on CBS in December 2007.
The Naudets garnered worldwide recognition in 2002 for their documentary “9/11”—recipient of that year’s Emmy for Best Documentary and a result of their own experiences in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. In the several years that followed Sept. 11., the Naudets began to question their own faith, the meaning of life and many other spiritual issues, according to Ruth A. Chamblee, vice president, director of marketing, trade books, National Geographic Books (NGB). “So they embarked on this massive research project … to speak to the world’s spiritual leaders to find out what they thought about all of these things,” Chamblee says.
Birth of a Book
Around the time the documentary aired—drawing some 6 million viewers—Chamblee says the Naudets approached National Geographic with the prospect of publishing the book. The publisher felt the need to move quickly to capitalize on both the success of the documentary and Pope Benedict XVI’s widely anticipated visit to the United States in April. So the team set its sights on a March 25 release date for “In God’s Name: Wisdom From the World’s Great Spiritual Leaders,” which left Chamblee, who heads up the group’s marketing efforts, and her team scrambling.
“We just felt that the project had such huge potential that it was something we were willing to crash,” she says. “And when I say crash, I literally mean that. The book itself was pulled together in incredibly record time, as was the marketing campaign. We started in January, after the holidays, and the book came out in March.”