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Sunday, August 5, 2012

WatchWord Video Bible may hit pay-dirt: Super Bowl ad

I have known Jim Fitzgerald  (in picture right with gold shirt) and his wife Betty for over 25 years.  They are true missionaries and servants of the Word.  Jim and I served on many Cursillo and Anglican Fourth Day Teams together and were both in a Tuesday morning Reunion group in Sewickley.  I was in the group 1987-90 and Jim is still active in the group 

By Adam Wagner, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  

Published: Thursday, August 2, 2012, 9:22 a.m.Updated: Friday, August 3, 2012 

In his final years of coaching professional football, Tony Dungy spent a significant amount of energy figuring out how to upgrade traditional playbooks from the page to interactive technology, such as iPads.
Now, Dungy could play a major part in helping a local company transition the Bible — which Dungy compares to a playbook for religion — into new technologies.
“In terms of getting young people interested, there’s so much that they get visually now,” Dungy said. “They get their information via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — sitting down and reading a book is not what young people do.”
Dungy, who won Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts, has agreed to be featured in the first Super Bowl commercial with a Christian theme — if an Ambridge-based company that uses modern media to proclaim the Bible should raise the money to make the spot.
WatchWord Video Bible was established by Jim Fitzgerald, 66, of Sewickley. Its product, developed over 18 years, is a version of the New Testament, portrayed by actors on location in the Middle East, that went on the market in 2008 and has sold more than a half million copies, he said. Originally on video, the enacted Bible also has been on DVD since 2010.
Fitzgerald has taken to the road to get funds to upgrade an app for his Bible; his long-term goal is to also fund the Super Bowl commercial.
On Saturday, Fitzgerald left from the Point to drive cross-country, visiting 21 cities, including Columbus, Dallas, Denver and Salt Lake City. He will conclude meetings with religious leaders and churches in San Francisco on Aug. 17.
He is using a Kickstarter campaign to raise $200,000 before Aug. 19. Kickstarter is a website that helps people fund their ideas by accepting pledges.
Fitzgerald wants the upgraded app to allow his enacted Bible to be used across many platforms, such as Android, iPad and Kindle Fire, and a new version of it that could be downloaded to mobile devices.
He foresaw portability for the enacted Bible years ago.
“In 1994, when I saw the first four chapters, I said: ‘I think the best use of this would someday be handheld players,’ “ Fitzgerald said.
He said that since work on the project began in 1994, about $12 million to $13 million has been spent.. The existing app has been downloaded in 40 different countries since its release last year, and the videos have been translated into Arabic and Japanese.
Fitzgerald also dreams of WatchWord featured on the nation’s largest stage — the Super Bowl.
“The Super Bowl is one of the few places that you can speak to almost everybody at the same time. … Super Bowl ads stand out, and people pay attention to them,” Fitzgerald said.
Others with ties to the NFL support WatchWord, such as Justin Hartwig, a former Steelers offensive lineman who uses the app.
“What’s great about this is it’s in a really easy format where kids can understand the Bible or people who aren’t believes who may be intimidated by the Bible can understand it, and it’s more than just words on a page,” Hartwig said.

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