My name is [insert name here] and I’m a Mormon

I’ve written a lot about the effectiveness of advertising elsewhere on tribalinsight, and more specifically whether the advertising of religion is going to lead to converts.

But thanks to a call from a current affairs program, I was recently alerted to a new campaign by the Australian chapter of the Mormon church, which is currently being tested in Brisbane. I had seen a similar campaign while in New York in August. The Australian campaign currently consists of an online, well produced series of advertisements and billboards, highlighting that Mormons are “just like you and me”.

My name is Will Hopoate, and I’m a Mormon

Clearly the Mormons are trying to change attitudes about their church and their religion. The Mormon brand has not done well over the years. “Big Love”, “The Osmonds”, and South Park have all had a go at trying to explain The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I’m Grant Leeworthy, and I’m a Mormon

The underlying story about Joseph Smith, being told by the angel, Moroni, to wander into the hills around his home in Manchester, New York, find the golden plates and start a new religion, has plenty of critics, but the Mormon church has about 14 million members around the world, including more than 100,000 in Australia.

I’m Steve Brouggy, and I’m a Mormon

So, it doesn’t surprise me that the church is using social media to get to Australians, and perhaps create some new “customers”. The effectiveness of that approach (in a similar context) is discussed here. The ads are well-made, have high production values, and, at face value, are trying to overcome simplistic stereotypes of what the Mormons believe people think the Mormons are… if that makes sense. By using “normal” people, and including the “pitch” at the end, the campaign is trying to tell us that Mormons are just like us (a bit like Brand Power… but different).

I’m Lorin Nicholson, and I’m a Mormon

But having looked through a couple of the online advertisements for the Australian campaign, I felt like I had been transported back to some strange “Mad Men” era, where men could do whatever they liked, and women were required to stay home and look after the kiddies.

I’m Patrice Arkins, and I’m a Mormon

Look through a couple of the advertisements, and it is obvious that there are clear roles being framed here. Men of the Mormon church are encouraged to be loving fathers and family men, but to also have lives outside of the family that are stimulating, diverse, and, of course, spiritual.

My name is Sarah Osmotherly, and I’m a Mormon

Women, on the other hand, seem to have one role – to look after their family. The women portrayed in the 30 second Australian spots, seem to have (had) exciting and rewarding careers, but the narrative coming through seems to imply that something was missing from their lives, and that all they needed was to stop focusing on life outside the family, and become full-time mothers. As one of the featured women say, “… so, home, that’s where I’m gonna be.” The implication is that these women sought fulfilment by giving up their careers and outside life, although the ads aren’t clear as to whether that is, indeed, the case.

Please don’t get me wrong – I don’t have a problem with full-time parenting. I think having the means and capacity to focus on on your family is a great thing. But I do have a problem when the campaign doesn’t once mention that any of the men considered giving up their careers/education/exciting lives, so that they could become full-time dads.

I may be a bit out of touch with the real world, but why is it that women always have to give up “life” for the family, but men don’t?  And why is that so many religions reinforce this view?

Campaigns like these really do shock me, but I would imagine that the Mormons probably don’t see anything wrong with this particular sentiment.

But then again, as I often say, if it doesn’t resonate with me, I am probably not the target audience… or it is a really bad ad.

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5 Responses to My name is [insert name here] and I’m a Mormon

  1. I fully agree. They attempt to give the appearance of having modern values by acknowledging that being a woman is a “balancing act” between family and career. However, all of the videos resolve this issue by bluntly stating “Home is where I’m gonna be” or something along those lines. Debate closed!

    Sorry Mormons, but simply acknowledging a modern issue does not mean you have modern values. I’d like to see the ad that goes “Hello, I’m am intelligent female professional who loves her career and gets personal fulfillment from being in the workforce, and my kids spend several days a week in childcare and one weekday with my husband who has chosen to work only 4 days a week to help share the load. It’s a tough balancing act and never easy, but we make it work. Oh yeah, and I’m a Mormon”. Don’t think we’re going to see that one any time soon :)

  2. Kara says:

    “My name is Kara and I’m a Mormon”
    I would like to point out at what you said in the third paragraph. We are not the “Church of Latter Day Saints”. We are “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” Nobody under the official title under the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ practices polygamy like they do in “Big Love.” Those are members of the “Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints” Who we do not consider to be accurate members of our religion. But that besides my point.
    There are fathers who do act as stay-at-home dads. A Lds family down my street is that way. The Mom is a Chemist at the University of Utah and the husband stays at home and takes care of the children.

    Please Expand your paradigm.
    kara the 14 year old

  3. Paul Harrison says:

    And good for you, Kara the 14 year old (is ‘the 14 year old’ your surname?).

    Correction made to the official title – although it is interesting that you use the abbreviation lds (which I assume stands for Latter Day Saints), which may account for confusion around the different “brands” of Mormonism.

    It’s interesting what people bring to a discussion (and I am impressed that you use the word paradigm). The piece was a commentary on the advertising campaign currently being run by the Mormon church in Australia, rather than a discussion of the particular reality (and as a researcher, I would argue that a sample of one is not a good metric). None of the online advertisements portray women in equal roles; rather than show two women who state that they gave up their lives outside their family, to be mothers. Which is fine. My issue is that if the Mormons are trying to present a contemporary “idea”, the portrayal of women in equal roles would be much more appealing to a contemporary audience. Or, to push the boundaries, perhaps, and portray men taking on the bulk of childcare and housework like women are expected to (which is what Sarah Osmotherly says in her statement, “I traded walking the red carpet, to walking out to put the clothes on the line”).

    So, my paradigm was already expanded. The commentary was not about Mormonism, per se, but about what was being portrayed in the advertising campaign.

    Thanks for you input.

  4. Pingback: The appeal of long-form ads | tribalinsight

  5. MIchelle says:

    Anyone outside of that wonderful picture may feel excluded. That couple is very very fortunate but many people are drawn to religion in time in their life when things are the hardest.
    I’m a sole parent and my life is not so glossy..I would not want to join and feel the way I do in every other religion that aspires to perfection and defined male/female roles. I left one organisation under the pressure of ‘if you are not fully committed then you will be subject to drinking/smoking/sleeping around…all the sins’. I didn’t do that before I joined so why on earth would I do that during/after/at all?! People need to understand their requirements and philosophies, not feel that they have intruded into someone’s very fortunate personal life.

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