Mormon Ad Campaign Seeks to Defy Stereotypes
Top Mormon leaders had hired two big-name advertising agencies in 2009, Ogilvy & Mather and Hall & Partners, to find out what Americans think of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Using focus groups and surveys, they found that Americans who had any opinion at allused adjectives that were downright negative: "secretive," "cultish," "sexist," "controlling," "pushy," "anti-gay."
On seeing these results, some of those watching the presentation booed while others laughed, according to people at the meetings. But then theywere told that the church was ready with a response: a multimillion-dollar television, billboard and Internet advertising campaign that uses the tagline, "I'm a Mormon." The campaign, which began last year but was recently extended to 21 media markets, features the personal storiesof members who defy stereotyping, including a Hawaiian longboard surfing champion, a fashion designer and single father in New York City and a Haitian-American woman who is mayor of a small Utah city.
"We're not secretive," Stephen B. Allen, managing director of the church's missionary department, who is in charge of the campaign, said in an interview. "And we're not scared of what people think of us. If you don't recognize the problem, you can't solve the problem. If nobody tells you you have spinach in your teeth, how would you know?"
Church leaders like Mr. Allen say that the timing and tenor of the
campaign have nothing to do with the political campaigns of two Mormons
running for president: Mitt Romney, the putative front-runner, and Jon M. Huntsman Jr.,both former Republican governors. To avoid the percep-tion that it was
trying to influence politics, the church is intentionally not airing thecampaign in states that have early primaries, going so far as to canceltheir advertising in Las Vegas when Nevada moved up its primary, said
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