“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall ahear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s aheart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their beyes they have cclosed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should dheal them.”
– Matthew 13:13-15
The web is supposedly abuzz about the new Mormon.org site. Supposedly. Today, for the first time, I visited the site. I only went there because I read an interesting article on the church’s new advertising campaign and thought I might as well go and see what the fuss was all about.
I went there to check out a few of the “profiles.” The “meet Mormons” drop down menu allowed me to pre-select what I was looking for, so I trolled around to see if I could meet someone who might as well be me. A male, age 25-34. The first guy I met was named “David Rex” who just happens to be a Mormon “because it’s true.” He also lives his faith “like [he] mean[s] it.” The next dude I found was Brandon, who “loves cities” and is “a Mormon.” He’s also a Mormon because “[his] membership in the church makes [him] happy.” Another guy is a Mormon because “as [he] makes a correct decision, [he] feels good inside and feel[s] that [he has] made God proud.” Lastly, I met someone named Michael who had a beaming smile. I’m a sucker for big, cheesy grins. He believed in the Word of Wisdom because, according to him, the Lord stated in Section 89 of the D&C that “hot drinks (meaning tea and coffee), tobacco, and alcohol are not good for the human body.” Go ahead. Read Section 89 and see if it says all that. A mix of the favor line rational, questionable understandings about what Section 89 does and does not say, and happy feelings. Ah, the world is happy this morning. And, I might joyfully add that it didn’t take much searching to come up with these examples. Less than 5 minutes provided me with more than enough reading for today.
Though it might be amusing to peruse a few more, that really wasn’t the point of this write-up. This was mostly in response to a Deseret News article on this new ad campaign. That campaign is what brought about the new Mormon.org profile pages, trying to connect individual members with individual non-members. The new Hyde Park, town square, as it were. The campaign includes billboards, TV, radio, bus platforms and other ways to entice strangers to find their way to Mormon.org and hopefully peruse more than a few of these profiles to see just what makes mormons tick. While that may or may not be noteworthy, I found the process that brought about this campaign rather insightful.
Just how did the church arrive at this decision to “advertise” itself across a few handfuls of markets in the united states? Surely it was revelation from heaven, you jest?! No, not revelation. There’s a better way to find a way to “advertise” the church: public perception. Nice, right!?
Yes, the Deseret News article mentions that this ad campaign “evolved solely from public reaction.” Scott Swofford, the director of media for the church, likewise used similar wording to describe from whence came this campaign: “the evolution has been interesting … for 25 years (the church) has been doing advertising … out of that research evaluating whether the advertising was effective came [the new campaign.” So, from both the Deseret News and Swofford we find out that this new advertising was an evolution that was 25 years in the making and is based “solely” off of public reaction. The only comment to the article summed it up succinctly, “Now WE are getting there … ‘Every Member a Missionary’.” Yes, every member a marketing, advertising missionary that takes 25 years to evolve his or her message to a point where they can bring out a new advertising campaign. And, no doubt the church correlation department would be rather excited to report that “you will find [the profiles] are very unified in the understanding of what they believe.” And though it might be fun to celebrate how well correlation has been received, the reasons behind this campaign should get a little more press.
In order to gauge the effectiveness of this campaign, which has increased site traffic to Mormon.org some 300%, one might (like Swofford did) rightfully ask how it might be gauged. Because, like the Little Prince stated those many years ago, “Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?” They ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” ” How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?” Only then do they think they know him.” That Little Prince may have been on to something with that reasoning, and certainly the church can’t gauge the financial success of this advertising campaign for a few years or so. Maybe 25.
Swofford interjects with his reasoning that it’s “too early to project” how useful the advertising will be – and truly it is too early for us to see when “seeing, we see not.” Though I may not be someone who believes in animal cruelty, and though this issue may be a dead horse here in the blogosphere, it nevertheless begs to be discussed. Whereas biblical and book of mormon prophets came from obscure places, and quite often resisted giving the message the audience needed to hear, now we have opinion polls, focus groups and the like which shapes the very message others see. As some have mentioned elsewhere, now is indeed the great day of opinion polling and focus group directed marketing. Image management is everything in this day of deceit and as a result the vision suffers and we’re left to years and years of research to figure out what’s right and how to go about our business.
I’m almost appalled that the vision is so guided by the public that we craft, gear towards and manage “advertising” campaigns based on an evolutionary process that takes 25 years to come to fruition and only then is based solely off the public. And, yes, the church is even calling it an “advertising campaign.”
Though I have more than a few personal misgivings about Helen Keller, the following quote sums this article up nicely:
“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” – Helen Keller
Finishing up that scripture noted above, in Matthew 13:
“But blessed are your aeyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many aprophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them”. – Matthew 13:16-17
May mine eyes see, and my ears hear. While others may rely on the research and focus groups to show them how to proceed, perhaps we as individuals should take a slightly different approach and seek to have our eyes opened that they might see.