The Mormon church’s increasingly hi-tech approach to door-knocking has reached new levels of wizardry with the release of a different sort of book. It opens not to reveal a sacred text but a video screen that automatically plays messages from Mormons describing what the real book means to them. Like an iPad crossed with a musical greetings card, it’s easily the most elaborate of the hundreds of press releases newspapers receive every day.
The video flyer was sent to 50 media outlets as part of the church’s response to its depiction in the hit satirical musical, The Book of Mormon. A button under the screen links to a message from a church leader, who concludes that “anything that raises awareness of the Book of Mormon is a good thing”. He may not have heard lyrics that include: “F*ck you, God, in the ass, mouth and c***.”
The bad-is-good news approach has included ads in the theatre programmes and a boost to an already mammoth social media campaign. There are around 200,000 Mormons in Britain but the official UK Facebook page has 1.5 million “likes”. The damning musical, which first ran in New York in 2011 and opened in London last month, may yet prove to be the unlikeliest of PR coups.
“It’s a central tenet of our faith to respect people’s choices,” says Malcolm Adcock, spokesman for the Mormon faith in Britain. “It’s not part of our culture to go out and protest.” Has he seen the musical? “I don’t think I’d find it particularly enjoyable,” he says.
Adcock, a former BBC producer, says the flyers cost the church about £50 each, a total bill of around £2,500. For a religion run like a multinational corporation, that’s small change – Mormons, who number an estimated 14 million globally, are expected to donate 10 per cent of their income to the church, which is worth an estimated £25bn.
Whatever you think of Mormonism, it’s hard not to be converted to the church’s approach to PR.Reuse content