Kirby: Mormons need new, improved ad campaign

By Robert Kirby

Tribune Columnist

Published: January 9, 2014 11:55AM
Updated: January 10, 2014 07:48PM

You’ve seen the commercials. Someone comes on the screen and tells you all about how he or she is just a regular person: “I’m a mother, a doctor, a homemaker.”

Then comes the kicker: “And I’m a Mormon.”

Some of these people were intended to be surprises but actually weren’t: black people, Asians, Latinos, maybe an Egyptian or even an Eskimo.

I haven’t seen the commercials in a while, but I did run across a website (mormonchannel.org) with more than a hundred of these clips. I watched a few and scanned through the rest. Boring.

Not one of them was truly a surprise because no one was anything other than average-looking. Firefighter, nurse, athlete, surfer, amputee, pilot, musician, cop, social worker, etc.

The two things they all had in common were that they appeared giddily pleased with themselves and they were Mormons.

The idea, I suppose, was to give the impression that Mormons are just regular folks like you. We’re your co-workers, acquaintances or even somebody you hit with your car. We’re everywhere.

There’s also the subtle message that you would fit right in with us. If an elementary-school principal or an assembly-line worker can be a Mormon, you can, too.

Or not.

Hey, I’m just saying that the commercials made us look safe enough to live next door.

I’m not impressed. I’m also a Mormon. If we’re going to spend a huge amount of money on TV ads, why not target the people who could use a bit more church in their lives?

“Hola, my name is Juan. I am an uncle, football enthusiast and a guerrilla fighter. También soy Mormón.”

If Juan covered his face with a bandanna and carried an assault rifle, that would get your attention, right?

What about a guy with a shaved head and wearing an orange jumpsuit? “My name is Nick. I’m a father, a writer and a death-row inmate. I’m also a @%$& Mormon.”

“My name is Misty. I’m a mother, a cookie baker and a former adult-film star. Ew. But I’m also a Mormon.”

See? These are people who had the gospel transform their lives, or at least provide some balance in the lives they currently have. They’re also people who are already us, just like the pleasant ones in the commercials.

“My name is Grace. I’m a single mother, a grandmother and I pull the guts out of turkeys at a processing plant. I’m also a Mormon.

“Hey there. I’m Roy. I’m an electrician, family man and Sasquatch hunter. I’m also — wait, what was that?!”

“Yo, I’m Mike. I’m a karate instructor and an undefeated cage fighter with more than 200 knockouts. I’m Mormon. You got a problem with that?”

Mormons aren’t just educated, hardworking people with regular lives. We can also be blackjack dealers, tattoo artists, Coca-Cola executives, sword swallowers, camel racers, emo/goth/skaters, winemakers and even hemp growers.

“Hello, I’m Monica. I’m a psychic, a palm reader and an astrologer with 27 cats. I’m also a Mormon Sagittarius.”

“Hey ho. Kermit The Frog here. …”

I’m kidding. Kermit’s a Unitarian. But the LDS Church needs a new and improved TV ad campaign, something that speaks to those of you (and us) who are really just like us. Or not.

“Hi, I’m Kirby. I’m happily married, a grandfather, an explosives enthusiast and a rude newspaper columnist. Oh, and last time I checked, I’m also a Mormon.”

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.