Your preteen daughter surely knows that Justin Bieber’s first feature film is opening this Friday, Feb. 11, in theaters everywhere. But does your pastor
know? Or your church’s youth leaders?
There’s a subtle-but-fascinating marketing campaign going on for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, accentuating the faith angle of the movie. Well, maybe not so much the movie as Bieber himself. Other than a quick pre-show prayer or two, the film is not overt about Bieber’s faith; one publicist clarified that “while Justin and his mother [also prominently featured] are Christians . . . this is a secular film about Justin and his music. However, it is clean, safe, wholesome entertainment that parents and grandparents can take their kids to.”
Still, due to the faith angle — however subtle — a relatively new division of a large marketing agency is pitching the movie to faith-based media and audiences. Allied Faith & Family, an arm of Allied Integrated Marketing, is working the faith angle for the movie, which is being distributed by Paramount. Allied IM (the parent company) is an established marketing agency that works a myriad of projects with well-known clients — including many of Hollywood’s major studios. (CT works regularly with the Chicago branch of Allied for movie screenings for our local film critics.)
In conjunction with the new Bieber film, Allied Faith & Family has put together a 12-page Bible study discussion guide titled, “Never Say Never: For Nothing Is Impossible With God,” based on the film and Bieber’s own faith journey. The guide bills itself as “an opportunity to teach our children about the power of hope, prayer, faith and family.” It includes sections on “Discerning God’s Plan for Your Life,” “The Power of Prayer,” and “The Importance of Godly Friendships.”
We already knew that Bieber was a Christian, but Allied Faith & Family’s efforts — which include a video interview with Bieber’s mother, Pattie Mallette — have helped members of the media learn even more about his faith journey. Cobbled from press releases, videos, and the interview with Mallette, we learn that:
> Bieber, in his own words, is “a Christian. I believe in God. I believe that, you know, Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I have a relationship with him. And he’s the reason I’m here.” (A few more "you knows" were edited out here.)
> Mallette wanted her son to be “a youth pastor or a worship leader,” and when Justin’s pop star began to rise so rapidly, she didn’t think it was God’s plan because so many entertainment celebs “are getting into trouble. It’s not the best environment to raise a child from.” But she says God “said” to her that he’d called her son “to be a light in the world, and how are you supposed to be a light in the world if you’re not in the world.”
> The prayers of many surround Bieber, his family, and his traveling entourage. “You can never have enough prayer,” Mallette says. “I have a group of people that I ask to keep us covered in prayer.” She also notes that many fans she’s never met regularly pray for them. (At left, Bieber and tour members pray before a show.)
> “Justin is still discovering who he is and who God is,” according to Mallette. “He has faith in God, and God has hooks in his heart. . . . He definitely knows he is not here on his own merit. He can’t deny the unprecedented favor of God in such a short period of time. And he knows it’s for a purpose and a plan.”
> Justin’s “Pray” is his mom’s “all time favorite song. It’s so full of life and hope.” In the song, Bieber notes some of world’s woes (“children are crying, soldiers are dying, some people don’t have a home”) before praying “for the broken hearted, for the life not started, for all the ones not breathing, for all the souls in need.” It’s not great poetry, but it’s a catchy pop song with a good word from a nice kid who believes in Jesus, you know?
And here's the movie trailer: