In April 2013, people bustling through Charing Cross Station in London were greeted with pictures of smiling people on brightly colored backgrounds, with the phrase “I’m a Mormon.” When they looked down, the floor tiles read, “Ask a Mormon” and “mormon.org.uk.”
A press release from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church) said that the Charing Cross mainline station, 10 tube stations, and 250 double-decker buses featured the advertisements during the month of April 2013. Internet advertisements will appear through the end of the year. The campaign features members of The Church of Jesus Christ talking about their lives and their faith.
The intent of the media campaign in the United Kingdom and Ireland?: Give the public a chance to know the Mormons better.
Malcolm Adcock, assistant director of LDS Church Public Affairs for the Europe Area said, “We want to introduce people to real Mormons, to regular members of the church.” He also noted that the media campaign “gives people an opportunity to engage at whatever level they’d like to engage.”
One reporter commenting on the campaign said that Mormons are not well known in Britain. He said there are only about 200,000 members of the Church in a country where the Church of England is the main established religion, “but the country is increasingly secular.”1
Adcock says that the campaign is correcting misinformation about The Church of Jesus Christ and challenging myths and stereotypes. Viewers are urged to “ask a Mormon,” which is the best way to get to know and understand The Church of Jesus Christ and its members.
History of the Church of Jesus Christ in Great Britain
Elders Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde were the first missionaries to preach the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in England. The first baptisms in the British Isles took place in 1837. Eight members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ served missions there beginning in December 1839 and concluding in the spring of 1841. They included Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards. Due to illness, apostle Orson Hyde arrived after the other Twelve Apostles and served there only three and a half months before he traveled on to Palestine to dedicate that land for the return of the Jews. Those eight apostles taught and converted thousands of people, and many—but not all—of the converts emigrated to the United States, beginning in 1840, to gather with members of the Church there.
Feedback for the Media Campaign
The Deseret News reported June 22, 2013, that the campaign is helping to dispel myths about the Church and is prompting increased missionary activity.
Greg Droubay, director of media for the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ, told the Deseret News that since the campaign began, “Visitors to the mormon.org.uk site have increased 250 percent. Similar increases are found in visitors requesting a copy of the Book of Mormon” or a visit from the Church’s missionaries. Droubay also said that the Church is “pleased with the response.”
Connection to “The Book of Mormon” Musical
The Great Britain campaign is patterned after the media campaigns launched by the Church of Jesus Christ in various cities in the United States during the past few years. Interest in the Church of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and Mormon missionaries has increased because of the satirical and irreverent musical “The Book of Mormon.” The Church of Jesus Christ placed ads in the theater playbills encouraging those who saw the musical to “read the book” because “the book is always better.”2
1. Russell Newlove, PRI’s The World, April 26, 2013 http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-04-26/londons-im-mormon-ad-campaign
2. The production is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Joseph Walker, “LDS Church Pleased with Positive Response to ‘I’m a Mormon’ in Great Britain,” http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865581986/LDS-Church-pleased-with-positive-response-to-Im-a-Mormon-in-Great-Britain.html-Im-a-Mormon-in-Great-Britain.html
Sarah Petersen, “Reactions to ‘I’m a Mormon’ Campaign in UK,” www.deseretnews.com/article/865579169/Reactions-to-Im-a-Mormon-campaign-in-UK-video.html
Paula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.