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Monday, August 23, 2010

I’m a Mormon—and I walk!

Were the Mormons facing that much negative PR from Big Love and society at large that they needed to rebrand? Apparently. They have a new campaign out aiming to change what people think of them. Included in this is a series of short bios out featuring people from different walks of life talking about their accomplishments, then capped off with “...and I’m a Mormon.” Typical PR approach in this case is to counter the misconceptions surrounding something by giving you a reason to identify with it. Ergo, i.e., e.g., Mormons are people too because we (insert stuff you and I do every day). Handled wrong, the approach can also focus the spotlight on the very thing you’re shying away from: “OMG, you walk? I didn’t know Mormons did that!” Like any rebranding effort though, it’s only as good as the core product. NOT to equate the two, but could a Scientology rebrand successfully and change negative perceptions people have of it? Doubt it. Likewise, I think people are smarter than to buy into all the stereotypes we assign to religious faiths in this country. People seem to have an issue with religion in general rather than any particular denomination. If people don’t buy into the Mormon faith, it won’t be because of an ad campaign.

(Via, via.)


Ben Kunz said...

I have a theory that all religions start as extreme cults and gradually, over time migrate to the mainstream. Most Christian churches have an altar at the front, a holdover from back in the day when humans prayed with animal sacrifices, and have communion events evoking blood and flesh. This happens at my current Episcopalian church, I'm not judging, just saying from a point of view of a Martian landing to observe our beliefs, the practice is whacky.

Mormons (my parents belonged and I floated through the church as a teen) have an interesting issue in they are migrating from extreme to mainstream; polygamy has been outlawed for more than 100 years but splinter groups and HBO bring the issue back; today the church is extremely conservative (see: California gay marriage controversial funding) and focused on traditional family values. What the Mormon church has from a pure marketing perspective is a customer churn problem; missionaries aggressively court new prospects, who join, but the defection rate is high. (See: me as a teen.) I'd guess this TV spot is focused on the disloyalists in an attempt to bring them back.

The real issue I see, far more disturbing than any church-promo campaign, is the growing insensitivity in the United States toward religions that are not our own. The current Muslim flap in NYC is perfect evidence -- imagine if opinionators expressed the same concerns over a Jewish synagogue being built? Unheard of today, but happened not so long ago (see: Germany). Americans seem confused that the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world are not all terrorists.

The idea that any religion should be slammed for different beliefs is simple ignorance, from those who don't study the strange history involved in their own. I know that's obvious, but worth reviewing next time we pray before the altar to commemorate a sacrifice.

mtlb said...

I wonder though if it’s not pushing extremists out, but revealing the majority that was always there?

As for religious tolerance, I go back and forth on that. If you accept someone and their religion, then by extension, you have to except where they choose to practice it. Where I have the problem there is: do you though, without exception?

Because the big exception, maybe the only one in this case seems to be the victims’ rights over religious ones. Does asking someone to be sensitive over where they pray trump their right to do so.