Jim Fitzgerald's dream of craftily digitizing the Holy Bible for mass digital consumption has been realized. For nearly a decade, Fitzgerald, 65, worked to create a video-book version of the New Testament, complete with narration, music and gorgeous scenes that were shot both in Israel and Rome and more.
It was in 1994 that the visionary first launched his company, The WatchWord Bible, in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. While his critics initially said that his dreams were impossible, Fitzgerald has defied all of the odds. Already, 500,000 copies of the digitized New Testament have been sold through Christian vendors and a special infomercial that aired between 2004 and 2006 on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
And now, to further adapt to the visual age, Fitzgerald's company has made the unique Bible available on the iPhone and iPad for only $12.99. This, his supporters maintain, is an effort that helps further spread the gospel to a younger generation.
"I was told it would be impossible to do it," Fitzgerald said in an interview with The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They said even if we did it, people would never want to read the Bible on TV and we would never be able to raise enough money to produce and promote it."
Now that he's made his original goal to spread the Christian gospels a reality, Fitzgerald is prepared for his biggest challenge yet -- raising enough money ($4.5 million to be exact) to pay for a 30-second commercial to advertise the WatchWord Bible during next year's Super Bowl. The popular American athletics event is known for having crafty and entertaining commercials that people pay attention to. Fitzgerald is hoping that his company's can be among them.
"The Super Bowl is the one time you can speak to most of the American audience gathered in one place," the business owner told The Gazette. "Our goal is to get 300 sponsors at $15,000 each to reach our goal of $4.5 million to produce and air the Super Bowl commercial.
Even if Fitzgerald raises the money, there's a chance he won't be able to convince the network and the NFL -- two necessary parties -- to allow the ad to air. Still, he's determined. The Gazette has more:
Dick Roberts, president of Downtown-based Roberts Communications, the marketing firm for WatchWord productions, said he has been communicating with NFL officials concerning the commercial. He said both the network and the NFL will have to approve the ad.
Mr. Roberts said WatchWord will have to submit a storyboard and a description of the content of the commercial by the fall for the 2013 Super Bowl. The completed commercial needs to be submitted three weeks before the event. Although NFL officials did not discuss a deadline for the payment, the fee will be between $3.5 million and $4 million and must be paid in advance.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers player Justin Hartwig is one of 24 sponsors Mr. Fitzgerald has recruited so far.
"I was impressed by the amount of time and passion he has put into this," Mr. Hartwig said. "I really believe in Jim. He really sold himself. He had this vision. He prayed about it and he knew God wanted him to do this.
You can read more about the struggles that Fitzgerald and his wife have faced as they've continued to create and market this unique product here.
(H/T: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)