The New York Times
published the following article yesterday:Mormons' Ad Campaign May Play Out in the '12 Campaign Trail
From the article:
Brandon Burton, president and general manager of Bonneville Communications, an advertising agency owned by the church, said that the church’s previous, long-running media campaign promoted the church’s doctrine, providing a toll-free number to call for a free Bible or Book of Mormon. However, this new campaign introduces doctrine only if a viewer seeks out the Web site mormon.org.
“What we found was that in order for people to have a desire to understand doctrinally what the church stands for, it was necessary for us to overcome the stigmas that existed,” said Mr. Burton in an interview. The biggest stigma, said those involved in the campaign, is the belief that Mormons are not Christians.
I feel somewhat guilty saying this, but I have some concerns about these new ads. When they first began a year ago, I was pretty excited. I loved them. Gosh, I write about being a Mormon on my blog more times than I can count! But something about the way Mormons are represented lately bothers me. And it's this: Mormons are all about being "cool" these days. They want to show the world that they are "just like everyone else."
Stephen B. Allen, managing director of the church's missionary department, is in charge of the ad campaign, and the Times quotes him as saying, "We're not secretive, and we're not scared of what people think of us."
I only partly believe him. I think he is right in saying that Mormons are not secretive. If they don't share a particular belief with someone who is not a Mormon, I'd say it's largely because they don't quite know how to answer a question with the proper context, tone, and clarity. That's an issue for anyone who tries to explain their faith to a non-believer.
I do think, however, that Mormons are generally scared -- well, anxious -- about what people think of them. To me, this campaign is trying to sell the idea that Mormons are cool. They do cool things in cool clothes and have cool jobs. That may be true. A lot of Mormons around the world do lots of interesting things, but a lot of them -- and I'd wager to say "most" of them -- do average things. And it's sometimes extremely difficult for people to live the standards of the church or understand the doctrine and principles, which are peculiar.
I, for one, like to embrace that peculiarity. I like the old Mormon ads that promoted the church's doctrine. Those were straightforward and cute. (Take this one, for example: Daddy, will you read me a story?)
On the other hand, I really like the new ads. They are visually great, and I love hearing people talk about themselves. I suppose my conflict with them is closely tied to the many articles I've read over the last few months. All this "Mormon mania" stuff is really interesting to me . . . It feels like Mormons are trying too hard to be like everyone else. Maybe it's not a bad thing. (Maybe in writing this post, I've just convinced myself that it's not.) But I'm just wondering . . .
What do you think, readers?
By all means, leave a comment!
Thing I'm thankful for: perfect weather. :)