Monday, September 15, 2008

Marketing and Buddhism - the success of Soka Gakkai

You may find the idea of marketing something like a spiritual path, religion, or other form of sacred tradition to be distasteful. This isn't surprising, because many of us think of marketing as a field in which you do whatever you need to do to "sell" your product, whatever that may be. So you have the association of unscrupulous tactics merged with the idea of reducing the search for depth and holiness to a product that can be bought and sold. Distasteful indeed! If one were to reshape the message or insight of the sacred tradition for the sake of "selling it", such spiritual materialism is indeed a foul thing. Yet marketing really means getting people to pay attention and give something a chance. So if you have something worth sharing, then shrewd but ethical marketing is nothing of which to be ashamed.

That includes the marketing organizations propagating the teachings of the Buddha.

Recently in the comments section of another post I was discussing the fact that the Sokka Gakai, an organization promoting a form of Nichiren Buddhism, has been very successful in not only going expanding beyond the immigrant community as well as drawing from a more ethnically, geographically, and economically diverse base. There are any number of factors which may be responsible for this, but I have to believe a significant part of it (which other groups could learn a thing or two by observing). For example, take a look at the Soka Gakkai International website as well as the Soka Gakkai International-USA website. The clean, attractive layout complimented by advanced web design. The contents. The ease of navigation to topics that new people would be most interested in finding. They aren't overly flashy but they seem modern and relevant.

More specifically, you can see the production value and how Buddhism is presented as relevant to the ambitions and struggles of the daily lives of all people in this slick video. I couldn't find a way to embed it here, but it loads and plays right away when you open that link. This kind of thing is going to get people to pay attention and quite possibly to give Soka Gakkai a chance. And if as they assert they do have something worth sharing then they will have successfully used marketing strategy to convey and share that thing of value with potentially thousands of people who find their way to those websites. It isn't wrong. It doesn't set itself up as contrary to or as being disrespecting toward tradition. But I can tell you what it does do - it works.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tinythinker;

    I am an expert and critic of the teachings of the SGI. As a former member of SGI and current member of the Kempon Hokke, I demonstrate how the SGI has perverted the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin. So much for the intro. Here is a slick SGI propagation video that I think you might find interesting:

    This video is proof that, despite their rhetoric eschewing such methods of Buddhist
    propagation, the SGI will resort to any means to spread their insidious religion.



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