Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Are you embarrassed by LDS advertising?

A couple of Sundays ago, Maude and I were enduring the "Pre-Show Entertainment" at a local movie theater, waiting for a 4:20 screening of Sin City to start (Flanders' patented two word review: thumbs down).
This particular movie theater plays local ads before the previews (which now also include advertising). These local spots usually have pretty lousy production values and are typically for real estate agents or local car dealerships.

The final ad before the trailers began was for a local protestant church. It showed people enjoying themselves outside, having a barbeque, laughing with neighbors. At no point did it actually show the church building or the services. My wife whispered to me sarcastically, "Wow, church is like a picnic everyday."
I whispered back, "I don't think people seeing Sin City on a Sunday are really their target market."

Are these ads with their low production values any better than the ads our church puts on TV? Our ads don't actually show the church or services; usually, they are some kind of Hallmark moment with the patented, "brought to you by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" following soon after.
The advertisements that focus on the Book of Mormon are a little better. They seem like they could interest people enough to call the 1-800 number, but they remind me a little too much of Dianetics-by-L-Ron-Hubbard ads. Also, I think it might be misleading to send the missionaries out to people's houses when all they probably want is a free book in the mail.

I am conflicted about these ads. My wife always needles me when they come on, and rightly so. I think we could do better. We need to get the message out, but I'm not sure this is the right way to do it.


Brian Duffin said...

To me, what is far more embarrassing than the advertisements made by the Church is some of the sappy and contrived music written by some Church members. Can you say Afterglow?

After working for an entire year at a radio station that played LDS music, I am surprised I didn't slit my writsts! There is only so much of Jerry-O and the MoTab that one person can take!

Dave said...

Yes, the LDS commercial advertising (by LDS-themed or LDS-managed businesses) makes me squeamier than the distinctive LDS PR spots. I kind of like the PR spots--they are a genre unto themselves and stand out noticeably in contrast to every other "buy our stuff" ad, whether on radio or television.

Note: I just ran a post at DMI on how what I call the Church's Nauvoo theme park is being pitched and promoted. Nauvoo--have you seen it lately?

Rusty said...

I gotta admit, the "Family: Isn't it about... time?" commercials are nice. There are a couple that I think are truly touching. I have to say I think our Church does a better job with its ads than other churches.

Oscar said...

One thing I don't like about the LDS commercials is that they, like most marketing strategies, appeal to your emotions instead of giving you facts.

I think this is a problem in all religions (not just commercials), but Mormonism in particular seems to mistake emotional reactions to beautiful music and touching pictures of family members for true spirituality.

It's a bit sketchy, in my opinion, to try to hook people in by appealing to their emotions in this manner, but I guess it's pretty effective.

NFlanders said...

It seems like I haven't seen a Church commercial in a long time (since I moved down to the DC area). I wonder, do they run them more in New York than down here? Or am I not watching the right channels?

Rebecca said...

Saw a truly cring-worthy church ad, where a girl was reading a book and asked another if she'd read a good book recently. She said yes she had and pulled out a BoM. It was dreadful.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Book of Mormon commercials are too much "bait and switch." People will think they are getting it through the mail, and then find a missionary on their doorstep.

Can you imagine ordering a copy of the Koran, or a book on Scientology or Hari Krishna's or Moonies just because you want to learn more about what they believe, and have a pair of Muslims, Scientologists, Hari Krishnashow or Moonies show up on your doorstep?

Anonymous said...

This thread may be dead, but just to say.
I was raised in the LDS church and admired it as I grew up and there is nothing more sickening than seeing religion being railed into peoples' lives via advertisement on Myspace or prime-time television.
If people want to follow, they know what is there. The audience is America. A commercial ad for the LDS Church is free game for monopolative criticism and the embedding of further stereotype. Is a bad reputation better than none?

NFlanders said...

What, just because the thread is 4.5 years old, you think it's dead? Ha!

Anyway, I can't remember the last time I saw a Mormon ad on TV. Perhaps they're laying low (lying low?) while the bad publicity over gay marriage blows over.

I agree with last year's anonymous, that the bait and switch on the free Book of Mormon or Bible is really awful.

I see the other ads as just so much schmaltz. I can't imagine they're very effective, but aesthetically, they are very embarrassing.