Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Commercial Appeal: An Ad Campaign Attempts to Show a New Side to the Mormon Church, but Is It a Transparent Attempt at Public Forgiveness?

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Commercial Appeal: An Ad Campaign Attempts to Show a New Side to the Mormon Church, but Is It a Transparent Attempt at Public Forgiveness?

Article excerpt

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WHEN MORMONISM IS MENTIONED, do surfers, feminists, and black families come to mind? Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hope so. The church has spent an undisclosed amount of money on new TV commercials depicting Mormons as everyday, hardworking, diverse Americans.

Airing in nine markets from Baton Rouge, La., to Rochester, N.Y., the spots launched this fall and are part of a new marketing campaign that includes online and billboard ads. The idea for the campaign came from LDS research that showed half of Americans don't know anything about Mormons, according to LDS media relations manager Kim Farah, who described the ad expenditure as "substantial."

"The best way to understand Mormons is to get to know them personally. These ads are an invitation to do that," Farah says.

The campaign has nothing to do with a possible 2012 presidential run by Mormon politician Mitt Romney, according to Farah. Nor, she claims, is it an attempt to make people forget about the Mormons' financial support of Prop. 8 or the comments by LDS elder Boyd Packer in October, calling gays "evil" and "unnatural" (the ads were made before Packer's statements).

"The church is politically neutral," Farah writes. "The campaign is an extension of advertising we have conducted for decades."

The LDS church has indeed been airing TV commercials for years, but they're usually in response to public relations debacles, argues Reed Cowan, the gay director of the Prop. …

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