Sunday, August 22, 2010

Branding the faith, redux

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. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting...but the crux of their campaign is to do 2, make them appear normal, and to dispell the common view people have of them. And two, to make an effort at claiming they are actually Christian. Most Mormons I have met are perfectly decent, hardworking people. So I admire that. You can't take that away from them. But the history of their religion or by Christian Standards, cult, was started in response to Christianity and spent the better part of its existence trying to dispell any ties to Christianity except ties to Jesus appearance in America (based on some gold tablets found in upstate NY). Now they have chosen to Embrace Christianity. Odd. This is how they have decided to, in part, make themselves appear normal. As a non-lapsed Christian, this approach instead takes the ignorance of the masses regarding their own religion and twists it again, still incorrectly, in a different that in this case potentially threatens someone's salvation.

For example, if i were an average American who may have dabbled with Church, and was looking for a new home. I see whats happening at the Church of latter day Saints and think...hey thats great, let me check it out. So I go and begin allowing myself to absorb their teaching. (by the way, they teach their parishioners to defend themselves by taking the Bible and using maybe one verse taken out of context to prove their point...never the whole story. makes you wonder why that is?) Anyway, I have now stepped voer a line into a "christian" faith that does not believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, through his sacrifice. They have now robbed me of my salvation and I may now be unable to even realize it. That being said, their door to door peddling is admirable because they have the guts to do it, but at the same time, look at what they hand you...pretty hard to distinguish their truth from Christian Truth.