LDS Church Pulled Ads During Romney’s Run

TV spots halted so the church could stay neutral

In 2010, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) launched its “I’m a Mormon” campaign to dispel misconceptions about its members, countering less-than-flattering depictions by entertainment-industry products, namely HBO's Big Love and the Broadway musical Book of Mormon. The effort initially entailed TV, Web display, social media, bus wraps and cab-topper ads, while pushing the church’s site nationwide.

But when LDS member Mitt Romney’s presidential bid hit stride during the GOP primaries last year, the church decided to significantly reel in the initiative, according to Eric Hawkins, media rep for the church.

Hawkins told Adweek in an email that the church “avoided markets in key voting states” during the primary run. With Romney going head-to-head with Barack Obama, the campaign remained shut down when it came to TV and out-of-home ads in the U.S.—only running online ads—while continuing the integrated effort internationally.

While Hawkins didn't specify what concerns his church had in terms of allowing its ads to intersect with Romney's presidential run, he said there was no strategic coordination between the Republican and LDS officials. "The church’s political neutrality is well-established and well-understood," he said.

Up to the advertising slowdown, “I’m a Mormon”—which features video and images of practitioners of the faith from various walks of life—had been deemed a success by the church and its in-house ad agency, Bonneville Communications.

In the campaign's first 12 months, Hawkins said, it produced more than 1 million viewers who individually started discussions to learn more about the religion. Traffic to the site jumped 25 percent compared to before while’s Facebook page hurdled toward nearly 1 million fans.