Thirty-some years ago, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began airing public service radio and television spots in support of the family. Highly creative, thought-provoking and often with a touch of humor, the spots were an immediate success.
A string of national broadcasting awards followed, and the “Homefront” series, as it was called, dominated public service advertising for decades. Nondenominational and identifying the Church only in the closing sign-off, the spots aired not only in the United States but also in other countries where broadcasters allowed them.
Although Homefront ads can still be seen, the Church scaled back the number of spots in the 1990s as broadcasting regulations changed and TV and radio stations began to cut back on public service airtime. In their place came a succession of creative ads that shared the principles and tenets of the Church and were designed to contribute to its missionary outreach. Usually, the new generation of ads offered a copy of the Bible, the Book of Mormon or other materials to people interested in knowing more about the Church. Literally millions of Americans responded.
Today, the Church is announcing details of its new generation of broadcast and print advertising, which invites people to visit one of the Church’s Web sites for answers to basic questions about religion. The advertisements are now being tested in three U.S. regions — upstate New York, the Kansas City area and the region around Las Vegas.
The new ads that invite the public to the www.mormon.org Web site are described on Newsroom today along with examples, background stories and a podcast. They are remarkable for a number of reasons. They feature members of the Church speaking for themselves, directly to camera, in natural ways that are unscripted and genuine. Church members talk about the personal religious questions they faced in their own spiritual journeys. But the new series also comes at just the time when the Church is making efforts to more clearly set out its beliefs while under examination from news media across the country and around the world.
The new series was conceived long before the present presidential campaign got underway, and work on the spots began well before a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced his candidacy. Nevertheless, for a public questioning just who Latter-day Saints are, what their values are and what they believe, these new invitations from rank-and-file Church members to explore their beliefs further on Mormon.org should provide some important answers.