WCCO reporter Jason DeRusha’s Good Question last night was “Why Are The Mormons Advertising?” I thought DeRusha’s answer to yesterdays’ question about the Mormons was a little vague, and could use some fleshing out. DeRusha gave some info about the campaign, and mentions that the Church has been running ads since the 70’s. But that doesn’t really explain why the church is running ads. The closest he came to answering the question is that “These ads are more like a branding or image campaign for the church…”
Well, sure. But why is the Mormon church involved in branding or image campaigning? Why does the Mormon Church care what people think about them?
Another question posed in the article gets a little closer: “I do think it’s weird,” said Marilyn, from Burnsville. “Are they trying to convert us to Mormonism?”
The answer to that question is “Yes, they’re trying to convert you to Mormonism.” DeRusha & Marilyn are on the right track, but let’s just clearly state the purpose of the ads:
The purpose of the ads is to debunk the idea that Mormons are strange, weird, alienating, reclusive, polygamous, etc. – so that next time you run into a couple Mormon Missionaries, or meet a neighbor who is Mormon, you will be more receptive to their message & eventually join the church. The ads (as well as the sponsoring mormon.org where the ads originate) are primarily a missionary tool. The ads are a response to surveys that have indicated that the only thing people know about Mormons is polygamy – that people think Mormons are weird, or that people don’t associate Mormonism with Christianity. These ads are supposed to let people know that Mormons are normal people living normal lives, and also that Mormons are unique people living unique lives (just not unique in terms of number of wives).
There’s more to the campaign than just the radio and tv spots. A recently redesigned mormon.org is filled with profiles of everyday rank-and-file Mormons who have answered all sorts of open-ended questions about themselves and the church.
Why, I even have my own profile at mormon.org where I have answered many of the suggested questions about Mormons and Mormonism. Unfortunately, my profile is still “Pending Review,” so I can’t link to it. In fact, it has been “Pending Review” for several months now, which I suspect actually means “Reviewed and Rejected.” [Edit 5:34 PM: Turns out, I had failed to complete all 10 required sections of my profile, not realizing that all sections were required. I have now completed all required sections, and I also significantly revised some of my previous answers. Learn more about the status of my profile here and here.]
So what do you guys think about the new mormon.org and the corresponding TV & radio spots? If you’re Mormon, have you created your profile yet? If you’re not Mormon, what do you think of the ad campaign? Do they make you want to join the Mormon Church?