Friday, June 24, 2011

Mormon Ad Campaign...or is it a Presidential Campaign

The Mormon church has been running their "I'm a Mormon" ad campaign since last August, and recently bought a $7 million billboard ad in Times Square, some say to counter the the Tony-award winning _Book of Mormon_ musical put on by the creators of Southpark. Clearly these ad campaigns don't come cheap, and most of the previous ones -- you know the ones where they promise to send you a free copy of the Book of Mormon -- have been dismal failures.

In fact, the word is that church leaders have leaned pretty hard on church members to "give of means and time", which is code for "deplete your life savings or be excommunicated", and this is coming on the heels of similar demands for donations to defeat Prop 8 in California.

All this money is being used to convince us that Mormons are more or less normal, and/or electable to the Whitehouse. That is, many people suspect that Romney and now Huntsman have been preparing the groundwork for the public to accept a Mormon president, which they see as a watershed moment, similar to Catholic John F. Kennedy being elected.

The problem is that it's not easy to convince people that Mormons really are that normal. The billboard in Times Square disingenuously shows three black faces, but if there were truth in advertising there would be a little asterisk that says, "accepted as full members since 1978". It was at that point, and not uncontroversally, that the Mormon Church reversed its policy of excluding people of African descent from the priesthood.

However, the Mormons remain one of the lily whitest people on the planet. Go to Salt Lake City and see how many brothers you can round up. Hint: most statistics say they are less than 1% of the population. The population of black faces on the billboard ad is 18%, which is more than a little exaggeration.

There's also a picture of a guy with a prosthetic leg climbing a mountain. I notice he isn't wearing any magic underwear though, and he better not have a sports drink with caffeine, or want to throw back a cold one at the top of the mountain.

Likewise, you can be a Mormon surfer all you want, as long as you don't smoke any Maui wowie, and you can't bag any babes unless you plan to marry them and have 14 kids with them.

The rest of them only have mug shots. They aren't all sporting crew cuts, white shirts, and back packs, as has become stereotypical. However, I have never seen any Mormons who look like the billboard coming to my door.

So for my part, I'm not sure who they think they're fooling. I guess as many people as possible, including themselves.

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