LDS advertising campaign elicits 'significant increase' in website visitors

Published: Tuesday, June 28 2011 9:00 p.m. MDT

"'It's kind of neat,' said Dowd Timmerman, 35, of Augusta, Ga., who was staying at a nearby hotel and said the ad was one of the first he noticed in the crowded square. "I guess anybody can be a Mormon."

(For more examples of media coverage of the "I'm a Mormon" campaign, please go to "Mormons try to brush up image while in the spotlight" and "Mormon ad campaign could confuse Christians, ex-Mormon warns.")

Some of the news coverage referred to the national public opinion research that was conducted by the LDS Church in 2009 that served as the basis of the campaign.

"In our research," Trotter said, "we identified that almost half of the people in this country say they know nothing at all about Mormons, with many saying they do not know any Mormons personally. "

This was troubling to church officials who felt that "the best way to understand Mormons is to meet and come to know us," Trotter said. Since they couldn't arrange to get more Mormons to live in more neighborhoods around the country, church strategists decided to harness the power of the internet in general, and social media specifically.

"We determined to use mormon.org to help people get to know our members," Trotter said. "The campaign directs people to the website, where thousands of members have created profiles about themselves describing their interests and how Church teachings and practices make them who they are."

There are a couple of different ways that visitors to mormon.org are introduced to individual Mormons. More than 60 video segments profile Latter-day Saints from all walks of life. These segments are not scripted, but feature members of the Church speaking about their lives and their faith in their own words.

In addition to the videos, the website also includes thousands of testimonials written and provided to the website by members of the church who are anxious to share their faith with others.

"This is one way to get to know us – through the lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Elder Richard G. Hinckley, executive director of the Church's missionary department, which oversees the mormon.org website. "It's one thing to read a list of beliefs and to try to determine what it all means. It is quite another to see those beliefs in action in an individual you know."

Mormon.org has other features, as well: information about Jesus Christ, the LDS Church and its teachings, and links to help people get a free copy of the Book of Mormon and to find a local LDS congregation near them. It also has a link through which members of the Church can enter their own "I'm a Mormon" profile.

Once the website was populated in 2010, elements of the "I'm a Mormon" campaign were originally tried out in nine markets around the United States: Baton Rouge, La.; Colorado Springs, Co.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Oklahoma City, Ok.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Rochester, NY; St Louis, Mo.; and Tucson, Ariz.

"The markets where we placed the ads last year did see an increase in interest in the Church and the total number of visitors to mormon.org," Trotter said. "We think the campaign is working, which is why we're expanding to other communities this year. There is undoubtedly a national conversation going on currently about the Church and its members, and we want to be part of that conversation."

Especially in New York City.

"There is a good deal of conversation going on in New York now," Trotter acknowledged. "That it why it is the first city the campaign is in so far this year."

The Boston Globe story indicates that the campaign will be seen in 24-29 different markets this year. According to Trotter, the Church has yet to determine what those future markets are and when their respective campaigns will begin. But clearly the "I'm a Mormon" campaign will continue, and will have you hearing and seeing even more Mormons.


EMAIL: jwalker@desnews.com

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