We had a long discussion on how to market the book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go. One thing we decided was that we couldn’t afford an expensive Madison Avenue advertising firm to get the message out to the nation. We would have to find another way.
About the last thing I expected to do as the author was to find myself not on Madison Avenue but rather on Fifth, promoting the book. But there I was, having joined 18 others in full street campaign handing out flyers and inviting the passersby to buy the book. To say that one of the world’s most famous streets became the place for a book signing would be an exaggeration. Nevertheless, it was an extremely interesting experience.
For some weeks, members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) have been travelling around the country promoting the book in busy downtowns. I decided to join them in midtown New York to get a feel for the public reception of the book and its message.
The book talks about the “frenetic intemperance” of modern economy. What better place, I thought, than the very center of frenzied markets?
We began the campaign on 42nd street, and straddled both Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It is easy to use the adjective frenetic since everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get where they needed to go. It was hard to make an impact on the sea of people that were constantly coming at you. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that a majority of the people were with cell phones in hand, checking their emails, text messaging or talking. But we did make an impact. Large TFP standards and an American flag dominated two corners. A large banner, a bagpiper and shouted slogans are all designed to turn the head of even the most inveterate and wired New Yorker.
For the most part, we handed out a flyer promoting the book to the passersby without much commentary. People would take the flyer with different degrees of interest ranging from asking for it to merely accepting it. You could perceive many simply did not care to know about an economic crisis and pledged their unquestioning trust in the status quo. Others seemed so engrossed and exhausted by the daily battle for survival that they could not make the effort to expand their horizons.
But to those who did stop to discuss the book, it gave much insight as to what people were thinking. Those who were unfavorable to the positions found in the book were quick to appear. Particularly curious were the homosexual activists who in their obsession to turn everything into their agenda found a way to bring the book into the debate about this sinful lifestyle.
There were others that had a problem with the term in the subtitle: organic Christian society. Some of these might have even agreed with many of the book’s economic positions but were determined that any solution must exclude God. The word “Christian” rankled one of them to the point of advocating an Islamic society in the name of diversity. To this very liberal person, I would like to have asked what was the part of sharia law he found so fascinating.
There was the “normal” opposition that resorted to insults, labels and cursing. Such people usually unload their message and scurry off quickly. They never engage in real debate. Veteran TFP campaigners have long learned to disregard their tactics.
The favorable reactions were much more interesting. Throughout the day, we were often greeted by the simple encouragement of people asking us to keep up the good work. Others said that they have long followed the activities of the American TFP and support our work. These may have participated in our protests or public square rosary rallies.
Others stopped and talked at length. One could note a great concern among these passersby. They were searching for solutions. They were looking to God and prayer. They truly wanted a return to order and said as much. Some bought the book saying that it addressed issues that they have often pondered. An economist wanted a different perspective. A city policeman bought the book because he sensed a lack of leadership in the country.
All this was a normal day in the life of the TFP campaigners who are visiting busy downtown areas. This exposure to hundreds of thousands of passersby is part of the “Fifth Avenue” marketing plans that is bringing the ideas of Return to Order to Americans that we would never have reached had we chosen the Madison Avenue option.