Why I Love the “I’m a Mormon” Media Initiative
Posted by Katie L
The “I’m a Mormon” / Mormon.org media initiative that was launched last year is making its way to my neck of the woods (inland Northwest). Starting the first week in October, there will be TV spots, radio ads, billboards and bus signs with cool, trendy people proudly proclaiming their Mormonness. In preparation for the media blitz, our ward received in-depth training from Salt Lake this past Sunday, so that we can be ready for the increased questions and attention that will inevitably come our way.
I am completely enthusiastic about this initiative — have been from the start. I’m not sure how well it’s working in terms of creating convert baptisms (that’s probably not trackable, since it’s a branding campaign as opposed to a response-driven campaign)…but that’s not what excites me most about it anyway. While I certainly hope it improves our public image, what I really love about the “I’m a Mormon” initiative is the message it sends to Mormons about who gets to be “in!”
I’ve long maintained that Mormonism is much more than a religion. It’s a culture. A way of life. Almost an ethnicity. I think of myself as a Mormon before I think of myself as a Caucasian or Utah native or American or libertarian or True Aggie or feminist or whatever dozens of other labels I might use to define myself to the people around me. My Mormonism is a core aspect of my identity. And yet, there are moments I’ve felt that identity threatened. I’ve wondered if I really “belong.”
It’s no secret that our culture has a tendency to be stifling at times. Especially in the I-15 Corridor, any deviation from the standard is frowned upon…and I’m not talking about “big” deviations in theology or behavior. I mean deviations in hairstyle, shirt color, political persuasion. If you don’t fit the mold EXACTLY, you’re made to wonder if you have a place.
The “I’m a Mormon” campaign relieves some of the pressure. It’s subtle, for no one would have explicitly questioned the right of any of these people to belong, but I believe it will go a long way toward eliminating the undercurrent of suspicion that flows toward Mormons who seem “different.” The ads and vignettes say, “There’s no One Way to be Mormon. You might not ‘fit the mold,’ but we claim you as our own. In fact, you are so authentically and acceptably Mormon, just the way you are, that we are asking you to represent us to the world.”
For people like me, who have often felt just a little on the outskirts, it’s a breath of fresh air.
I like all the vignettes on Mormon.org, but just for fun, here are a few of my favorites…
1)–Allan and Laura Wollford. When was the last time you saw a dude like this and gave him a 90%+ Mo or No rating?
2)–Cassandra Barney. Are Mormon women even allowed to be this eccentric and awesome? 🙂 She even says that there was a mold she thought she was supposed to fit, but then realized she “totally made it up,” and that God made her to be an individual. I don’t know that she made it up — our culture certainly perpetuates those ideas — but how wonderful that an official church video explicitly advocates the idea that the mold isn’t as rigid as we thought it was!
3)–Sheryl Garner. This woman just delights me, and I wish her mother would make me dinner:
4)–Deborah Dushku Gardner. Finally, I have to share this one about a friend of mine, Deborah, who is a stay-at-home mom and founder of a wonderful charity for Bulgarian orphans. (WARNING: this one made my husband — who is known for his heart of stone — literally break down into sobbing gasps in the middle of Sunday School.)
What are your impressions of the “I’m a Mormon” initiative? Any favorites? Reservations? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
About Katie LThirtysomething wife, mother, writer, runner, believer, and lover of good food and bad movies.
Posted on September 27, 2011, in Mormonism, News and Current Events, Pop Culture and tagged advertising, authenticity, i'm a mormon, identity, media, mormon, mormon.org, Mormonism, social media. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.