Three weeks after its splashy Super Bowl ads got mixed reviews, the Jesus-focused “He Gets Us” campaign will once again court the attention of sports fans during a major athletic event.
“He Gets Us,” along with Joe Gibbs Racing, announced Wednesday that it will be sponsoring the no. 54 Toyota Camry TRD car in this weekend’s Pennzoil 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Tens of thousands of racing fans are expected to attend the NASCAR Cup Series race in person, while many others will watch on TV.
Jason Vanderground, president of Haven, the lead advertising agency for “He Gets Us,” said in a press release that the NASCAR partnership will help the campaign boost awareness of Jesus Christ.
“We are honored to expand upon our primary sponsorship from two Xfinity Series races last year to six Cup Series events this year, and we look forward to growing our reach and impact as a result,” he said.
As Vanderground noted, this weekend will not mark the first time that “He Gets Us” branding has appeared on a race car. The campaign partnered with Joe Gibbs Racing for two Xfinity Series events last year; it’s moving up to the higher-profile Cup Series for the season ahead.
“He Gets Us,” as the Deseret News has previously reported, is putting tens of millions of dollars behind its effort to help lapsed Christians and others see Jesus in new ways.
Its signature ads, which generally feature a series of black-and-white photos and a brief message about Jesus’ life, point viewers to the “He Gets Us” website, where they can learn more about biblical teachings.
“We are trying to introduce people, including some who might be skeptical of Christianity, to Jesus’ relevance in modern-day life and call upon Christians to reflect his teachings in the way they treat other people,” said Jordan Carson, the campaign’s spokesperson and director of communications, to the Deseret News in January.
According to Wednesday’s press release, the “movement” has garnered around 475 million YouTube video views since it launched last year. It’s also been the subject of lots of social media buzz, including during the Super Bowl.
During the NFL’s big night, many Christians celebrated the chance to see two ads about Jesus nestled in-between beer commercials and movie trailers. But others, including some faith leaders, questioned why so much money was being spent on Super Bowl ads when Jesus himself preached the importance of helping people in need.
“With the money the ‘He Gets Us’ people spent on their right-wing Jesus ads, they could permanently house 1,563 people experiencing homelessness,” tweeted Sawyer Hackett, a Democratic strategist, during the Super Bowl, as the Deseret News previously pointed out.
Despite the pushback, the “He Gets Us” campaign is showing no signs of slowing down. Vanderground recently told Religion News Service that the mostly anonymous group of funders hope to spend $1 billion on the project over the next three years.
Some of that money has been spent on the new NASCAR Cup Series partnership, which spans six races, including this weekend’s. Driver Ty Gibbs said in the press release that the message of “He Gets Us” fits well with his personal beliefs.
“I think He Gets Us is a creative way to reach people in today’s world to speak about Jesus,” he said. “I think we all face struggles every day and this campaign shares an important message: no matter what we might be going through, we are not alone.”
Gibbs, 20, won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2022, according to NBC Sports.