The first time she saw an ad for “He Gets Us,” a national campaign devoted to redeeming the brand of Christianity’s savior, Jennifer Quattlebaum had one thought on her mind.
Show me the money.
A self-described “love more” Christian and ordinary mom who works in marketing, Quattlebaum loved the message of the ad, which promoted the idea that Jesus understands contemporary issues from a grassroots perspective. But she wondered who was paying for the ads and what their agenda was.
“I mean, Jesus gets us,” she said. “But what group is behind them?”
For the past 10 months, the “He Gets Us” ads have shown up on billboards, YouTube channels and television screens — most recently during NFL playoff games — across the country, all spreading the message that Jesus understands the human condition.
The campaign is a project of the Servant Foundation, an Overland Park, Kansas, nonprofit that does business as The Signatry, but the donors backing the campaign have until recently remained anonymous — in early 2022, organizers only told Religion News Service that funding came from “like-minded families who desire to see the Jesus of the Bible represented in today’s culture with the same relevance and impact He had 2000 years ago.”
But in November, David Green, the billionaire co-founder of Hobby Lobby, told talk show host Glenn Beck that his family was helping fund the ads. Green, who was on the program to discuss his new book on leadership, told Beck that his family and other families would be helping fund an effort to spread the word about Jesus.
“You’re going to see it at the Super Bowl — ‘He gets Us,’” said Green. “We are wanting to say — we being a lot of people — that he gets us. He understands us. He loves who we hate. I think we have to let the public know and create a movement.”
Jason Vanderground, president of Haven, a branding firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan, that is working on the “He Gets Us” campaign, confirmed that the Greens are one of the major funders, among a variety of donors and families who have gotten behind it.
Donors to the project are all Christians but come from a range of denominational backgrounds, said Vanderground.
Organizers have also signed up 20,000 churches to provide volunteers to follow up with anyone who sees the ads and asks for more information. Those churches are not, however, he said, funding the campaign.
The Super Bowl ads alone will cost about $20 million, according to organizers, who originally described “He Gets Us” as a $100 million effort.
Bob Smietana is an award-winning religion reporter and editor who has spent two decades producing breaking news, data journalism, investigative reporting, profiles and features for magazines, newspapers, trade publications and websites. Most notably, he has served as a senior writer for Facts & Trends, senior editor of Christianity Today, religion writer at The Tennessean, correspondent for RNS and contributor to OnFaith, USA Today and The Washington Post.