Sunday, February 06, 2022

Tracts and trickery

Recently I met up with my longstanding friend, Mark (Hi Mark!), for a coffee. We chatted at length and after we collected our second coffees of the evening, we decided to switch tables. The table we moved to had some literature left on it that looked like this.

At very first glance, I thought someone had left a leaflet along with a decent tip for a hardworking busboy. Then I realised it was something else - and I got a bit excited. This is the first time I have seen an example of a "Fake Bank Note" religious tract in the wild.

When it's taken out of the other leaflet it looks like this.

That's right it's a one million pound note from the 'Bank of Eternity', which bizarrely seems to be endorsed by Simon Cowell. I doubt he has agreed for his image rights to be used like this. The point of the tract is to warn you that large amounts of money or even being as famous as Simon Cowell won't save you on judgement day, so you need to get repenting or you will go to hell. (I'm paraphrasing here, but that's the gist.)

Mark was a bit surprised about how keen I was to look at this bumf. But I have an interest in religious marketing (because I seem to get sent religious post regularly). I've also never seen this in use in the UK. I remember reading several highly critical responses to similar Fake Bank Notes being used in America several years ago - for example, in this post from 2014 on Stuff Christians Like - but I didn't ever expect to see something so tacky in use over here. 

I suppose, like most terrible things that develop in American culture, it was almost inevitable that they would show up in the UK eventually. I can only imagine the disappointment of a staff member thinking for a fleeting second that they have been given a generous tip, only to find it's a hard sell for religion. I can't think of anything more offputting, really. 

I was slightly impressed by the designer's attention to detail. The serial number starts JN316, a reference to John 3.16 - but I can't figure out if the rest of the serial number is meant to mean something. [Edit: Carol W thinks it might be another Bible reference - IS551 meaning Isaiah 55.1] It's a bit of a hidden gag that I appreciated even if the target audience wouldn't get it. There is also a line saying it's not legal tender. It's almost as if the "Bank of Eternity" isn't a real bank after all.

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