The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gets around to digging into the Mormons' latest ad campaign -- which I covered previously here -- with this excellent piece of explanatory journalism. Pittsburgh is a test market for the catchy ads, which have now generated free media from both daily newspapers and arguably the city's most influential TV station.
That's the kind of buzz you hope for when you launch a brand campaign like this. Buzz is the reason that people pay exorbinant sums to advertise during the Super Bowl, when the viewership alone doesn't justify the cost. They're hoping their commercial is the one featured on the late newscast after the game, and the next morning on The Today Show, and on sports radio when everyone has run out of interesting things to say about the game itself.
By that standard, these ads appear to be doing the job. Note that the Post-Gazette doesn't just write about the commercials, but about the church itself, giving readers a primer on a faith that is often lampooned and stereotyped but which I'm guessing most Americans outside the church don't understand. The PG story also reveals just how image-conscious and brand-savvy the church is, even to the point of considering whether its trademark missionaries are sending the wrong message to the public.
Me, I've always admired the fortitude of the Mormons' faith that they are willing to ring a stranger's doorbell and try to engage him or her in conversation about their religious beliefs. It's a rather foreign concept to a lapsed Presbyterian like myself. But the image of a couple of white guys, walking lockstep while wearing ties and neatly pressed white shirts, hardly conveys the idea that Mormons reflect true American diversity -- which is, in my opinion, the whole point of the campaign.