After a Spring Hill media company made national headlines by donating billboard space for an ad for the film “God’s Not Dead 2,” more than a dozen other billboard companies around the U.S. have followed its lead and donated ad space for the film.
Spring Hill-based Wingate Media Group provided billboard space in Pulaski to advertise the DVD release of “God’s Not Dead 2” after the film’s production company, Pure Flix, had the ad rejected by a billboard company in Cleveland because it was deemed too incendiary for the Republican National Convention that was underway at the time.
In addition, Wingate Media provided 20 indoor screens throughout Spring Hill and northern Columbia to help advertise the film free of charge.
According to Ike Wingate, president of Wingate Media Group, at present 14 billboard companies have donated ad space in cities from Atlanta and Dallas to St. Louis and Oklahoma City.
“As part of sort of a second wave of this story, the film asked if I knew anybody else who had a billboard,” Wingate said. “So I distributed the information out to the organization I’m a part of, Independent Billboard Operators’ Association, which is made up of independent billboard operators, and I mean the response was crazy. Right now we’re at 14 billboard companies that are donating space.”
The ad features actress Melissa Joan Hart and a quote that reads, “I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God.”
“I saw the design and my first thought was, ‘How is that incendiary?’ Wingate said. “And my second thought was that it would never cross my mind that was offensive. We’re a company obviously based in Spring Hill, and nothing about that sign violates our values or way we run our company. I wouldn’t call ourselves a Christian company, we just happen to be company run by Christians.”
According to Wingate, the film’s production company had originally aimed to have the ad featured on a billboard on the side of a building, called a “wallscape,” in downtown Cleveland where there would be plenty of traffic from the RNC; however, placement of the ad was denied by the company Orange Barrel.
“So Orange Barrel may or may not have been the ones that denied it,” Wingate said. “Some speculation is that it was tied back to the RNC; that it didn’t quite fit with narrative of the direction they’re going.”
Various local and national media outlets have covered the story since the ad was first rejected during the RNC in July. According to Wingate, the latest outlet to reach out to him was The Hollywood Reporter, which called last Friday.
Right now the amount of ad space being donated around the nation to help promote the DVD release of “God’s Not Dead 2” is estimated to be as high as $50,000, according to Wingate. For his part, he said the billboard in Pulaski and 20 indoor screens in various local businesses has a total value of about $1,500. The film has a DVD release date of Aug. 16.
Quint Qualls covers Spring Hill for Home Page Media Group. Reach him at [email protected]