Mormons Reveal Their True Colours In Major Media Campaign
“Most Australians have heard of the Mormons but don’t know much about us,”
They have been knocking on Australian doors for a hundred and sixty years, leading their denomination to be one of this country’s fastest growing Christian faiths, as identified by Brisbane's Westender.
Now, with prominent Mormons appearing in the media almost every day, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (their proper name) has decided to give the people of Queensland the opportunity to knock on their door and find out a little about them. And it’s all possible because of the digital age.
In a new TV, internet and billboard advertising campaign, which will blanket South-East Queensland from 25th September, individual Mormons will open up about what really makes them tick. Viewers who want to know more will be directed to the web site, Mormon.org.au, where they can see longer video profiles of these people and find out what they believe.
“Most Australians have heard of the Mormons but don’t know much about us,” said President Dale Maurer, a senior minister of the Church in South-East Queensland. “In fact, we’ve been here since the Irish and the Chinese first arrived in Australia and now have 130,000 Church members, including 37,000 in Queensland. One way to understand us better is through the lives of our members.”
Maurer says the new campaign features a diverse range of people, as diverse as Australia itself. These include Mormons from Australia:
Professional rugby league player for the Manly Sea Eagles and currently serving as a two year volunteer service missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. View TV AD or View Full Profile.
Professional singer and mother having performed in major roles in some of Australia's greatest theatres. View TV AD or View Full Profile.
A former PR agent, who has put her career aside for a period so she can be a full-time mother. View TV AD or View Full Profile.
A scientist who is passionate about the marine environment. View TV AD orView Full Profile.
A motorcycle guru, who owns the largest non-competition race track in the southern hemisphere. View TV AD or View Full Profile.
A musician and motivational speaker who has been blind since birth. View TV AD or View Full Profile.
As well as Mormons from other countries:
A mother, an accounting Major and the 2008 Women's Long-board World Champion. View TV Ad or View Full Profile.
A project manager in construction and bee keeper. View TV Ad or View Full Profile.
A musician born and raised in London, England with hits in over 15 countries selling over half a million CD's. View TV Ad or View Full Profile.
A Nigerian-born full-time sculptor living in Georgia USA. View TV Ad or View Full Profile.
Wayne Hudson, Strategic Research Professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University, said, “The ads are technically very good and profile attractive people. They will certainly strengthen positive perceptions of Mormons and the Church in Australian society.”
Maurer says directing viewers to Mormon.org.au is an important innovation. Unlike past Church ads which invited viewers to call for a free DVD or Bible, the latest ones leave it to viewers to research the Church and its members for themselves.
“The media landscape of Australia has altered dramatically,” says Maurer. “The internet and social media are a wonderful means for people who want to understand more about Church beliefs to find answers at their own speed.”
While the Church continues to share its message through over 52,000 full-time missionaries worldwide, many individuals prefer to first seek information about the Church on the internet before they speak with a missionary in person. Mormon.org.au plays a critical role in providing that content.
Dale Maurer believes the campaign will generate great interest and people will come to know that members of the Church are followers of Jesus Christ who try their best to live by his teachings.
“Who we are is very much because of what we believe,” he said. “And, when people are better informed of our beliefs, misconceptions about us tend to diminish.”
According to Alan Wakeley, the Church’s long-standing Director of Public Affairs in the South West Pacific, the new campaign builds on a tradition of advertising by the Church, beginning in the 1970s with creative public service announcements.
These ads, featuring family-oriented themes, pioneered the use of public service time by religious groups in this country leading to similar campaigns by other faiths.
Wakeley says the ads, while successful and generally well received, didn’t explain who Mormons really were beyond their belief in family values.
So, Church leaders asked media professionals to answer the question, “What messages do people really want to hear?” The answer was that they wanted to know what Mormons stood for and what their faith had to offer that was different to every other religion.
“There’s now a worldwide conversation going on about Mormonism,” says Wakeley, “and we want to be a part of it. However, we are not just Australian sporting champions, U.S. presidential candidates or million copy fiction writers. We are also regular people who are part of the fabric of society.”
Wakeley says the new campaign may help Church members who have been reticent about talking to their neighbours and friends about their beliefs.
“Sometimes, we don’t feel entirely comfortable about doing so – Australians like to keep religion very much to themselves – however the new ads may mean members can invite their friends to discover that they have something quite unique, if not unusual, in today’s world.”
Results for the campaign won’t be compiled until next year. But Alan Wakeley says he believes it will generate great interest and that the number of visitors to Mormon.org.au will be substantial.
Notwithstanding the final outcome, Wakeley says the campaign ultimately will prove useful to the Church. “What we’ll learn is how to better speak to those not of our faith and explain what we believe,” he said.