Fans of the popular series The Chosen, a crowd-funded show about the life of Jesus Christ and those who knew him best, were both dismayed and confused during Holy Week and Easter to see defaced billboards along major US highways and social media ads telling people the show was no good and shouldn’t be watched.
The Deseret News reported that the Easter ad campaign used 70 billboards nationwide depicting actors from the series defaced with graffiti-like markings and words like “The Chosen is boring” and “chosensux.com.”
The URL led people to a comical video depicting a Satan character who is teaching other devils how to get people to not watch the show.
After calling billboard companies and taking to Twitter and Facebook to express their disapproval with the ads, fans learned that the people behind the smear campaign were actually the creators and distributors of The Chosen itself.
The reaction was so strong from fans that Dallas Jenkins, the shows creator and director, apologized, telling News Nation Now that he and the team who created the campaign didn’t anticipate how much it would upset loyal viewers. “I had to do a little bit of sincere apologizing because I think we missed the boat with our core fans.”
But although Jenkins says he regrets not giving a heads up to The Chosen’s biggest supporters, the campaign has actually been a big success.
“The reaction from non-viewers who are just discovering the show because of the campaign has been extraordinary,” he said. Jenkins says he is getting a lot of messages from people who tell him they weren’t going to watch it but now they are — as well as people who admit that the campaign piqued their curiosity in the show.
Some people think the campaign is clever and creative; others have expressed that it has rubbed them the wrong way. But Jenkins and his team thought the campaign would work with those who are not inclined to watch a Christian show.
“We thought this was a unique and disruptive way to bring attention to the show and point out some of the things that sometimes keep people from watching a show like this and spotlight what’s different about this show,” Jenkins said on Banfield.
The Chosen, staring Jonathan Roumie, which is currently coming in at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, is the largest crowd funding campaign in history. It’s been viewed over 400 million times with over 19,000 people donating $10 million to get the first season made. Even more was raised for season two and there are more seasons planned.