Since I often listen to KSL radio on the way to and from work, I tend to hear quite a bit of advertising aimed at members of the Church. Most of it is for products that are of little interest to non-members — LDS novels, for instance.
But there are a couple of LDS-targeted ads that stood out because the products were of general interest. And I found myself appreciating one of those ads while disdaining the other.
Men’s Wearhouse has been running some ads with recorded customer calls, with a bit of commentary by the president of the company. (I don’t know whether the calls are genuine or not, and it doesn’t really matter.) One of the calls is from the mother of a missionary, explaining how her son got all the clothes he needed from Men’s Wearhouse. The president of the company talks about how Men’s Wearhouse can meet the needs of missionaries.
Maple syrup is not, as far as I know, a pancake/waffle topping peculiar to Mormons. But Land of Joseph Pure Maple Syrup has ads mentioning that their maple syrup came from a place in Vermont near Joseph Smith’s birthplace.
So why did I like the Men’s Wearhouse ad and dislike the Land of Joseph ad?
Men’s Wearhouse is a national company headquartered outside of Utah, but I assume this ad was made specifically for the Utah market. Other, non-LDS targeted ads run here as well, but I liked the fact that the company was paying sufficient attention to the market that they understood about missionaries.
Land of Joseph’s ad felt like a marketing gimmick to me. Buy this maple syrup because Joseph Smith was born nearby!
After tracking down their website (which, strangely enough, is http://www.timesandseasons.net), I found myself even more annoyed by this, found on their Historical Setting page:
In the early spring of 1820 a fourteen year old boy went into a grove of trees. Most of the trees were sugar maples and some of those trees were more than 400 years old. In that spring the boy and his family harvested one thousand pounds of maple sugar.
Land of Joseph Pure Maple Syrup is a celebration of what happened in that grove of trees.
Leaving aside the fact that particular grove of trees was in New York, not Vermont, is it really appropriate to be using the First Vision as the basis for marketing maple syrup (or any other product)?
But maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe we should just count ourselves lucky the company is not based in Palmyra, manufacturing Sacred Grove Pure Maple Syrup.