So you’re a… umm… ok

One viewer’s reaction to an “I’m a Mormon”/Mormon.org video*:

Folks be gettin’ annoyed by LDS-sponsored YouTube ads.

Mormon YouTube ads engage with social media to advertise their religion, an online version of the door-to-door campaigns conducted by the Jehovahs witnesses. The only difference is that you can no longer shut the door if you dont want to talk.

Yahoo! Answers:

Q: Why are there so many Mormon videos infesting Youtube?

A: The Mormon church is desperate for new members and to repair their horrible public image.

It’s annoying and I wish they would stop. They don’t realize these ads make them even look more weird.

Prediction: They’re not gonna stop. And then they’re gonna wonder why they get singled out for parody on Broadway and elsewhere.

*By the way, this viewer’s name is Lyle aka Guitarmasterx7 and here are the stats for his YouTube channel:

Subscribers: 105,146
Total Upload Views: 15,984,067

And now, all 105K+ of Lyle’s subs just got this message from their guitar hero (verbatim from the info under his vid):

“I don’t really understand this ad campaign nor do I know why it’s promoted on my videos.”

By way of comparison, the Mormon.org channel on YouTube will someday have more than 8K subscribers. But not today.

LDS FTW.

P.S. Did anyone else see this free ad that HuffPo ran for the Mormons? I don’t get it. Seriously. Here’s how that ad post ends:

Want to know more? Want the happiness I feel? Find out for yourself [insert link to mormon.org here].

N-u-t-s (not Katie’s religious sentiments, but the fact that HuffPo is now an open platform for publishing testimonies).

Published by

Chino Blanco

--- We are men of action, lies do not become us. ---

26 thoughts on “So you’re a… umm… ok

  1. @Fox: Don’t know if you were being sarcastic or not, but normal people don’t have to hire marketing firms to promote themselves as normal.

  2. @Jim: Why not? Does your statement apply to GLBT groups as well? There was a GLBT Media Summit in Philadelphia last month to discuss ways in which PR firms can help them generate favorable media coverage. I think marginalized groups (Mormons, GLBT, etc.) have every right to hire marketing firms to dispel myths and promote themselves as normal without being abnormal.

  3. I think marginalized groups (Mormons, GLBT, etc.) have every right to hire marketing firms to dispel myths and promote themselves as normal without being abnormal.

    As an example, one of the stated goals of my personal blog is to demonstrate by example that atheists/ex-mormons are ordinary (even fun!) people. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend putting it into the hands of a PR firm, but maybe it’s a question of degree?

    That said, it’s my personal impression that this big money astro-turfing as opposed to (even actively opposed to) real grass-roots makes a qualitative difference in the impression people get.

  4. I think this Mormon take on the ads is telling:

    As the door-to-door effort dies a slow death in the developed world, these ads provide a way for us to connect with individuals in a non-invasive way. So what are we selling? We’re defining ourselves rather than 181 years of being defined. And if you choose to join us, you can still lead a normal life while your spiritual life (we claim) improves.

    So, Mormon.org, YouTube and sidebar ads are 21st century proselytizing. They’re not “mythbusting” or “proving normalcy.” They’re proselytizing. Future missionaries will be trained in digital arts.

    There may have been a point in which door-to-door-ism was considered “sharing” rather than “invasive.” But there’s never been a point in which digital advertising was not invasive.

    “Social Media Architect” Jesse Stay wrote in response to the invasion (at the Socialtimes article):

    “you can’t shut the door” – seriously? Why did you choose to watch the video in the first place? You didn’t have to hit play. In this case, you chose to let them in – no one knocked on anyone’s door. *that’s* the advantage of social media. You choose what *you* want.

    and then he had to correct himself:

    Actually, just realized you mentioned it came as a commercial in a Youtube video you were watching, so I see what you mean. In that case I don’t see how this is different than other TV ads. Religious groups have shown commercials on TV for decades.

    Interesting psychological twist there. He gets angry that the guy isn’t exercising his “free will” to not be inundated by the ads, but then dismisses the guy’s concerns when he realizes the guy had no choice.

    Here’s from Stay’s blog, talking about Facebook, but it could just as easily apply to his logic for the Church:

    For any service, when people are yelling you’re dying, when you’re still growing, that’s a good thing! It shows you’ve touched a few nerves and you’ve got people’s attention.

    The only difference is, when people leave the Church, they don’t come back quietly like they do for Facebook. They don’t come back at all. At some point, the Church is going to have to think seriously about the ex-Mormon phenomenon.

  5. The REALLY funny thing is that mormons learned this ad/promo strategy here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxDrAfFw0LU

    These ads predate any of the momon ads by at least a year or more. Can the mormon PR firms really be this stupid to copy the format exactly?

    Mormons not a cult??? HAHAHAHA!

    What kind of church copies a cult marketing campaign exactly?

  6. These ads predate any of the momon ads by at least a year or more. Can the mormon PR firms really be this stupid to copy the format exactly?

    Well, Scientologists weren’t the first at it either. You might read Peggy Fletcher Stack’s piece in the Huffington Post: Faiths Ad Campaigns Chase After The Great ‘I Am’:

    The message of these ads is not just that we — Mormons, Methodists, Muslims — are normal … It’s that “we are you.”

  7. Alan- I asked Mara last year if she’d be interested in popping around for a discussion. If someone were to post a review of Brands of Faith, I’m guessing she’d be glad to join in.

    Any group, marginalized or not, is free to market and promote itself as it sees fit. I’ll match that obvious observation with the obvious (to me) question raised by Lyle’s reaction video: Is every channel equally appropriate for every message?

    I can certainly think of places that I’d suggest LGBT groups not spend their money on advertising. Then again, maybe the LDS strategy is not to simply generate favorable coverage but also to capture some additional attention by stirring up controversy with shotgun ad placement.

  8. Chino – I think that the issue raised by Lyle (and identified by you) might be classified as “freedom from speech.” There is a lot of ink spilt about how important freedom of speech is, but it always focuses on the speaker and not on the listener. Is there a way to control what we hear without stopping others from voicing their viewpoint? I think as time goes on and technology allows greater invasion into our personal spaces, there will probably be a push for “quiet places” away from others.

  9. dpc- I suspect that both Lyle and I are aware of the trade-offs that come with moving into “quiet places”… (more quiet = less reach, for one). To the extent that we enjoy the reach that YouTube affords, we’re mostly cool with accepting the reality that it comes with a cost (i.e., advertising noise).

    As much as you want to make this an argument about first principles, I’m really just mostly interested in outcomes vis–vis specific “I’m a Mormon” campaign tactics. I’ve presented one example of negative reaction here. Does somebody have a counter-example of a positive reaction that they’d like to share? I can think of a few, but I’ll let others go first.

  10. Perhaps it is testimony of both the LDS church desperation now that they have a viable presidential candidate rising in the polls. Their are saddled by their mouthpiece-of-God early marketing as “peculiar” people and now that they want political power, it has backfired. Nobody wasnts a peculiar President. How to undo the peculiariarity?

    Since obviously the heavens are silent on the matter, one of the geriatric leaders said, “I know! Let’s hire a PR firm or two and let them tell us what the Lord wants.” The firm reported back that for only several hundred thousand tithing dollars which could have gone to help the orphans in Haiti, or the suffering in Somalia or the terrible destruction here in the United States, they came back with this professional recommendation: copy the Scientologists.

    Which worked so well for them, didn’t it? Exactly. Nothing can undo in your mind the story of Xenu once you’ve heard it. And same thing with the Mormons. Once you know about planet Kolob and Joseph Smith secretly “marrying” other men’s wives, it’s all downhill from there.

    I don’t care if they surf, rappel, mountain climb, dance on the head of a pin, etc. They still belong to a cult that actively misrepresents its teachings.

    Anagrammy – Recovery From Mormonism Forum (1140 posts per day)

  11. Thanks, Chino. You can remove references to RfM if you like. I added it so you would know who I was if you are not lurking over there. These new “I Am A Mormon” ads are troubling for a few reasons. One is the fact that they initiated this push by calling a special meeting and requesting every member over 14 cough up their profile information so they can pick out the stars. This is using people like meat with no thought of how that affects members who are not picked. Another round of judging and being found wanting cannot be strengthening to the members. The other troubling fact is the disclaimer attached to the massive suckup of Mormon profiles allows them to change the content of the profile without permission of the person. So I might see my head photoshopped onto a skinnier lady and an announcement that I teach ballet? So wrong on so many levels. Also, will those who surrender their personal information be getting emails from companies who have been sold address lists from LDS, Inc? Food storage, ammo, pails, temple clothes, Noni?

    I guess what I’m saying is this: if the members created the ads and uploaded them, I’d be fine with that–it’s their freedom to do so. I just don’t like a corporation demanding personal information and then getting a release to fake it up. How spiritual is that?

    Anagrammy

  12. Hey, Kathleen. Nobody’s gonna remove any references here. Kuri’s just making fun of RfM’s annoying allergy to hospitality. I know your handle and enjoy your contributions I’ve seen over there. I love ballet. Where do you teach? 😉

  13. Ballet! Hah! Yesterday my grandchild tried to kamikazee out of my arms and today I practically legally paralyzed from low back pain… back to the subject, the insertion of any ad in a youtube video is annoying but unsolicited religious propaganda is bound to create flat-out hostility. Why can’t Mormon handlers see that?

    In keeping with the new business-oriented focus, why not just offer six months tithing rebate for every baptism?

  14. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t. Why does it matter whether it’s posted as a commercial, ad, link, sidebar, etc? Last time I checked, we have the ability to mute the sound on our computers, close our eyes, watch another youtube video in a different tab, and so on. I’m not a mormon, but I think it’s stupid that people freak out that they make these videos. Who cares? We’re tolerant of other self-produced videos (like yours? right.) on the internet, but when a group of good people try to make videos of themselves, it’s somehow annoying and unacceptable? Get over it.

  15. I thought the “I’m A Mormon” ads were to run in selected cities on television, interrupting programming like any other advertisement for any other product. Only this is a religion advertising their normalcy. I could care less about what videos they –or you–or the op makes or distributes. It only affects me when I don’t have the option to turn it off. And it’s my understanding that these cannot be turned off any more than those accursed Toyota ads that repeat, and repeat, and repeat, the exact same one during my favorite TV show. Am I wrong?

  16. @18 Did you read the post? The question isn’t whether Mormons have a right to make videos and post them to YouTube, it’s whether plastering YouTube with astro-turfed ads isn’t perhaps counterproductive to improving the Mormons’ image.

    Im not a mormon, but I think its stupid that people freak out that they make these videos. Who cares?

    Well, I’m not a believing Mormon either, but I think it’s stupid when — given the infinite selection and finite amount of time — people go find Internet conversations they find uninteresting and bother to post comments telling them how uninteresting they are.

  17. I’m not so sure “saturation” is that bad or even a negative response to it. The only worse than people saying bad things about you is that they don’t say anything at all.

    To be honest, I don’t use Youtube very much, so I haven’t had much contact with the Mormon ads, although I do see a lot of links for “I am Ex-Mormon” here and there. (Isn’t that one right there on the right hand side on this page??) Those seem to be a “greatest hits” of people who have left the church in a very public manner in the past few years, so it’s fun to feel nostalgic about them (thank you, Mr. Lamborn!)

  18. The fastest way to a headache is by trying to decipher another persons actions and intentions.

    Sometimes, but it can also be amusing.

    although I do see a lot of links for I am Ex-Mormon here and there. (Isnt that one right there on the right hand side on this page??)

    Well, yes, but it’s not a paid ad. We post all sorts of Mormon and ex-Mormon interest links in our sidebar. That’s part of the value-added of this site: grouping exmo-interest links for folks who are interested in the topic.

    The only worse than people saying bad things about you is that they dont say anything at all.

    That is so true. Of course, people are already talking about Mormonism, even without these ads. I gather the church’s aim is to try to steer this discussion in a more positive direction. Maybe it’s working, maybe it isn’t.

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