Interesting P.R. Approach

August 6, 2008 | 17 comments
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Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve encountered an interesting banner link in my gmail account:

LDS - Polygamy Banner.2

Makes me wonder what other sorts of low-key messaging the Church might be employing out there. Anyone else happen to come across anything interesting?

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17 Responses to Interesting P.R. Approach

  1. Chris Bigelow on August 6, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I’ve been noticing that same link too. I wonder if Church PR bought the link or just some well-meaning member acting independently?

  2. Benjamin on August 6, 2008 at 10:55 am

    The language employed certainly suggests it was an individual or smaller group and not the Church which bought the ad. Then again, I know Google limits you to a certain (very low) number of characters in AdWords ads, so maybe this was the best they could do in terms of wording.

  3. sister blah 2 on August 6, 2008 at 11:59 am

    You must be more Mormony than me, Marc–you got a banner ad, whereas I only get sidebar ads!

    I’ve seen it in gmail and in a variety of google searches I’ve done. Somebody’s paying a pretty penny for it, the bill just for the number of times I alone have seen it must be quite a lot.

  4. Marc Bohn on August 6, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    If it was an independent person or group, I think it would be fascinating to find out what other efforts they’ve been involved in and what other sorts of non-official ads might have been purchased.

  5. Matt W. on August 6, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    THe Church has been doing banner ads of the truth restored campain in slected test areas as well.

    There has been some interesting negative response to it:

  6. Blain on August 6, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve read over the Church’s approach to the term “Mormon” and find it confusing and contradictory. On the one hand, we’re not supposed to refer to ourselves as Mormons (instead, we are to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and we’re definitely not supposed to refer to the Church as the Mormon Church (or even LDS Church). On the other hand, the Church buys and uses mormon.org, and unleashes PR barrages when anybody who isn’t a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refers to themselves as any kind of Mormon. WTFlip?

    I’ve read their arguments, and their basic point is that people have historically connected the term Mormon with the CoJCoLdS, and that any other use is confusing. However, very few folks have heard of any restorationist group other than the CoJCoLdS to think of using the term Mormon on them or not, so I’m not sure we’re causing any confusion if we say that there is more than one Mormon church, and that the big one out of Salt Lake doesn’t do plural marriage, but some of the smaller and less mainstream ones do. We can compare it to mainstream Vatican II Catholic congregations and Opus Dei congregations — not a perfect match, but it is at least roughly parallel.

  7. Jonathan Green on August 6, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Blain, quoting from the style guide: “When referring to Church members, the term ‘Latter-day Saints’ is preferred, though ‘Mormons’ is acceptable.” So I don’t see the same recommendation against calling ourselves Mormons that you see, and therefore I don’t see the same contradiction.

  8. StillConfused on August 6, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I wonde rhow much the PR campaign costs, and if it is cost effective, and if the funds could be put to better use.

  9. Adam Greenwood on August 6, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Ditto, J. Green.

    mainstream Vatican II Catholic congregations and Opus Dei congregations

    Opus Dei is part of the mainstream Vatican II Catholic Church. You must be thinking of the LeFebvrists (aka the SPXers).

  10. Bookslinger on August 6, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Matt w: (#5), it looked to me like only one of those posters had a problem. One of the admins apparently blocked that campaign in response to the one complaint, but that admin didn’t give their own opinion of it.

    Sister bla 2 (#3), As far as I know, Google ads are billed by the number of times ads are clicked on, not by the number of times they are shown. However, large advertising accounts can have special arrangements done up. And for large advertisers, there may be a minimum amount charged if click-throughs don’t meet a minimum requirement.

    Jonathan: Blain is referring to one or more First Presidency letters that have gone out occasionally since the late 1990’s. I saw one in the early 2000’s, it was posted on a ward bulletin board. He’s right. The church did make that request of members one or more times in the past.

    Elder Ballard’s recent talks (he’s done 3 talks on the subject since Dec ’07) indicate that the Brethren have been putting a focus on mass media.

    I expect ads on prime-time TV and in Time/Newsweek/USA Today before long.

    When membership in Africa and India reaches a critical mass, I would expect mass media ads there too.

    Technology and mass media will have to be used. World population is growing faster than the church is.

  11. Raymond Takashi Swenson on August 6, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    I believe the decreasing number of children people are having, not only in the developed world but also in developing nations as they become a bit more prosperous, is slowing down population increase and is expected to result in total world population starting to fall by mid century. On the other hand, the Church has had fairly steady growth for over a century, doubling roughly every 20 years. I fully expect the Second Coming will interrupt things way before more than a few percent of humanity become Latter-day Saints, but I also think that something unexpected is going to happen before then to allow missionaries to penetrate the Muslim world, as well as China, as happened with the Soviet Union. Who knows, if we get decent broadband and virtually reality interfaces, Chinese, Arab and Persian people could get the First Discussion over the Internet. With Mormons all over the globe in every time zone, people could do a Google search and get live missionaries!

  12. Wm Morris on August 6, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    The costs of this Google AdWords campaign is most likely not very much at all. Unless there are some well-funded anti-Mormon entities doing counter-bidding.

  13. Bookslinger on August 6, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Ray: you beat me to it. I didn’t want to pack all that in one comment. I believe you’re right: discussions over the internet.

    I’m envisioning a combination of live presentations, and pre-recorded video missionary presentations recorded in target languages (not dubbed). Even the pre-recorded video could be interactive to a small degree with topic choices (sort of like what’s on mormon.org already, but closer to the missionary presentations) . Ward missionaries or full-time missionaries throughout the world could be on-call in shifts, either at home or at their chapels, much like the 800# or Internet chat missionaries are now.

    I also believe you’re right that the 2nd coming will happen before mid-century. But I’m not so sure on your population trends. India and China population growth may slow, but Africa and Central Asia are still having population booms because improvements (though modest) in health care have reduced infant/child mortality, yet the number of births/woman hasn’t decreased correspondingly. Afghanistan, Somalia, Uganda, West Bank, Yemen, Gaza Strip, Kuwait, Madagascar, Oman, all have over 3% growth rate, with Afghanistan at 4.77%. Several more African countries are at 2.9% +.

    As immigrants continue to flood to the US from China, Korea, Arabic countries, India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, and African countries, there are more and more connections from the US to those countries. I can personally attest that over the past four years, at least 700 immigrant households (mostly non-Hispanic) in Central Indiana (and a few hundred more along my routes of travel) now have bilingual LDS gospel material with which to discuss with their relatives back in their home country. Even if they discuss it only as bilingual material, hopefully the name of the church or of the Book of Mormon gets mentioned. One of my hopes is that their relatives will contact the mission office in their home country, and request “that free book that’s in both Shona/etc and English.”

    Wm Morris: (#12), total cost depends on the raw number of click-throughs, and yes, there are antis placing Google ads, which figures into the competition if the antis select to have their ads placed as “content ads”.

  14. queuno on August 6, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    It can’t cost more than BYU football does. Which is more effective?

  15. Alison Moore Smith on August 7, 2008 at 1:59 am

    …the bill just for the number of times I alone have seen it must be quite a lot.

    Adwords isn’t pay per view, it’s pay per click. So they only pay if you follow the link.

  16. Jonathan Green on August 7, 2008 at 3:01 am

    Bookslinger, I have no doubt that you and Blain saw those letter, and I have very vague memories of the same, but checking the precise wording rather than relying on memory is probably necessary to decided if the church really was saying what you remember them saying.

  17. Cicero on August 7, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I saw an ad for the church on the Goblins webcomic webpage. I thought it was a little strange.