The first Scotland-wide advertising campaign to publicise the real meaning of Christmas will be launched on 11th December 2003 in train stations across the nation.
Posters in the ground-breaking "Losing the plot" campaign are going up now in, among others, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street stations. The Scottish Episcopal Church plans to place hundreds more in stations and churches in the countdown to 25th December.
The posters show one of the three kings looking down in horror at a price tag left on his gift of gold to the baby Jesus. The slogan reads: "Losing the plot? Give yourself a break at church this Christmas."
Church leaders today said the campaign was not a killjoy attempt to stamp out presents and parties around the festive season. It was more a light-hearted bid to restore the balance and remind people of the real reason for all the celebration.
"We're not trying to take the commercialisation out of Christmas," said the Most Rev Bruce Cameron, head or 'Primus' of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
"Shopping for presents and parties can be great fun. I enjoy that aspect of Christmas myself. What we're trying to do is to restore the balance and put the Christmas message back into our celebrations."
The Scottish Episcopal Church joined forces with the Churches Advertising Network (CAN), a group of Christian media professionals, to launch the campaign in Scotland. Hundreds of posters will also appear in train stations across England and Wales.
Train stations were chosen as the main location to catch people on shopping excursions and on the way to Christmas get-togethers.
Church organisers said the campaign would act as a counter-balance to the advertising efforts of high street stores like Marks & Spencer and Toys R Us to force their brand on to the festive season.
Toys R Us is currently trying to entice shoppers with the slogan "Christmas is...Toys R Us". Denise van Outen, Cold Feet Star Hermione Norris, Graham Norton, Sean Bean and David Beckham are all currently lining up on TV to claim that Marks & Spencer is "What makes Christmas magic".
The Primus, who is also Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, said: "What concerns me about these campaigns is that they can give the impression that you've got to spend money to find the meaning of Christmas.
"We are saying that the real gifts of Christmas are love and peace, which are both priceless. You can't buy them in a store. But they are the gifts that I'd like to give to the children of Baghdad and Jerusalem this Christmas."
Web site: www.scotland.anglican.org