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Aggressive Advertising

August 14, 2010

If you happen to visit any of the ex-Mormon circles I visit, then you’ve probably heard of Robert. Robert is an ex-Mormon with a video in the style of those “I’m a Mormon” videos that the church has just started promoting. But if you haven’t seen Robert, here is his video:

Robert’s story is cool enough, I suppose, but what I find more intriguing is how often I’ve heard about Robert.

See, I first found out about Robert from a Main Street Plaza post featuring his video. But that first introduction would be far from the last.

Let me try to count the place I’ve heard of Robert from. I have seen numerous tweets from Chino Blanco’s twitter account, another one from the Main Street Plaza twitter account, a reddit on the main reddit board, not to mention reddits from 10 other subreddit areas, each which manages an at-best tenuous connection with Mormons and ex-Mormonism (e.g., at first it was cute to see reach-outs to any ex-Catholic or ex-Jehovah’s Witness reddits, but then when Robert’s story was linked to the lgbt reddit as advertisement that “Young Mormons are leaving their church in droves because of prop 8,” I was amused to see chino field address criticisms that Robert probably didn’t have anything to do with Prop 8).

Note that all of these promotions so far have come from one individual.

But Robert’s story has been promoted by others. Obviously, if you saw the video from me, then I can assure you that I am a (dis)tinct person from Chino Blanco. I’ve seen the video linked at USU SHAFT, Whore of All the Earth, Further Light and Knowledge (wait, that one was posted by CB…never mind), and I’m sure I’ve missed several other places.

I guess it’s as TechCrunch wrote about viral media…if you want to go viral, be a(n) (ex)-Mormon! I can’t help but recognize that this seems to be an effective strategy (I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I know I’ve seen people talking about it), but I also can’t help but feel a bit (dis)turbed by it.

As I mentioned before (and as you might have surmised), so much of the promotion is coming from one individual. I guess one could say, “Well, hard work and dedication is a pro, not a con,” but I feel then that this is all manufactured in a way to which I’d rather have not been privy.

I am reminded of various attempts to “pharyngulate” various polls on the internet. People seem to be quite enthusiastic about getting a certain result (e.g., a “win” for science or rationalism or whatever in some poll), even if it means debasing the very foundation of the poll (the idea that it could — in some way — capture the views of a broad public).

I guess I can’t say I’m spotless. The webOS community has united several times in various poll competitions to secure victory for Palm products, as with Laptop Magazine’s March Smartphone Madness. In this sense, it feels like these shows of solidarity are more about the community bonding than anything external.

What can I say? I’m uncomfortable tweeting out any of the links to this site even once, in many cases…I wouldn’t have what it takes to spread something far.

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21 Comments
  1. I’m not sure I understand your reservation with promoting videos like the featured in your post, Andrew. Could you elaborate?

  2. The vast majority of the promotion is coming from Chino Blanco.

    I guess all things have to start from one source, but seeing it up and close is kinda (dis)comfiting. I guess it seems a bit artificial.

  3. If there were more videos like these to promote, I would certainly promote them as well, Heck, I wanna make one. I think this is going viral because it’s something that struck a chord with many of us ex-Mormons who are tired of the stereotype the Church paints of apostates.

    As far as trying to pin him in with the anti-Prop 8 lot, well, a lot of people are mad at Mormons about that and rumors fly easily.

  4. It’s not the fact that there’s only one video (although I DO think it would be a pretty cool project to make more like these…), and it’s not that it’s going viral that’s problematic.

    It’s the way the virality is being spread so rapidly by one person. Of all the places I’ve seen with promotions to this video, far more than half have directly resulted from chino.

  5. I haven’t experienced anything of mine going viral (yet **crosses fingers**), so maybe someone else can better answer, how do things normally go viral? Doesn’t it usually start from one source and branch out from there?

    If Chino had made this video himself, it might bother me to see him promoting it so enthusiastically, but I’ve been known myself to share something I really like in several different places online.

  6. Well, that’s the thing I fear from this video.

    To put it cynically: You haven’t experienced anything of yours going viral because some *one person* hasn’t put the effort to submit your stuff en masse to several reddit channels, several ex-mo board, mormon discussions, etc., etc., etc.,

    If this is how things go viral (emphasis on “one person”), then I’m not sure if I want viral.

    As far as I can tell, this isn’t Chino’s video, but that’s not the part that gets me.

    I guess I’m just oversensitive to something that’s not even really a big deal.

  7. No way. Some guy’s using Reddit and Twitter to promote a link? The nerve!

    Oh well, no accounting for some people I suppose. Sigh.

  8. :0/

    I just really don’t have the marketing spirit, I s’pose.

  9. As far as I can tell, Chino is a regular contributor at all of the places where he posted the link, and he’s using the sites in a way that’s totally consistent with the way they’re supposed to be used. Then a handful of blogs (from the same community, whose authors probably read each other’s blogs) picked it up.

    I suspect that it looks more viral to you than it actually is because you happen to subscribe to all of the venues where Chino posts. ;)

    So he’s got more marketing spirit — so what? If you make your own “I’m an exmo” video, I’m sure Chino will help promote it.

  10. That’s true. it’s a small world we all just happen to share.

    Unlike Robert though, I’m pretty uninteresting. A video of me would be pretty lame.

  11. I’ve said it before and will probably say it again, Chino Blanco is the hardest-working exmormon on the internet, and I’m proud to have him on as a mod at /r/exmormon.

    I do want to point out that the video premiered (was first linked to) at /r/exmormon, and spread out quickly from there, for a large part with Chino’s help. And though it didn’t get a lot of upvotes in some of the other reddits, it got some love from reddit.com and from /r/atheism.

    I think one of the good points of this video is that it took the high road, not directly attacking the church. I’ve seen proposed scripts for this counter-campaign that get a lot nastier… I’d like to see those too, but for a first strike, I think this was the right path.

  12. I really can’t deny that CB is hardest-working exmo on the internet.

    I agree that the video took a great tone; not rage-y at all.

  13. Yeah, you just may not be a marketing guy. I’m not a marketing guy either, but I think Chino’s promotion of the video feels cleaner to me than any standard corporate sponsored marketing, simply because it’s a message he actually believes in, it’s a good message that isn’t false advertising, and he doesn’t get anything personal out of it except maybe some Reddit karma.

  14. Certainly, it isn’t corporate. And I guess, even in the lgbt subreddit (where the video was pointed out to have nothing to do with Prop 8, as it was advertised), it’s doing incredibly well (in fact, that is the best performance for it out of all the subreddits). So this is just another example of my being out of touch, I guess.

  15. Fantastic video. Warm & honest.
    Apostates unite !

  16. I don’t think this is what you were talking about, Andrew – and perhaps I’m just in denial about modern life. But the way some videos go viral (not this one) is a little odd and disturbing to me. I am thinking specifically about the flight attendant from last week. What disturbs me is that in the past, a person could make a scene or a mistake, and it was pretty much limited to the people who were there. Now, anything and everything is fair game to be broadcast to the world…it gives one pause.

    And to take it back to this video, I’m assuming Robert knew that this might be the response when he created the video. I think there’s a difference between creating a video yourself and posting it yourself and having a video of you posted….

    PS. You forgot the ancient yahoogroups e-mail list of exmormons. I may have been the person who promoted this video there…..

  17. aerin,

    That’s a really good point.

    But then again, that actually hits my point. Things that people don’t expect to get popular — but that actually do — (like flight attendant guy)…that’s organic virality. I mean, sure, it showcases the way that ANYTHING anyone can do has the potential to make it all the way across the world, but I guess I’m not worried about that.

  18. Yeah, I’m the evil Dr. Aspartame and you’re Captain Pure Cane Sugar, Andrew. Rock on.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. More thoughts on Mormon and ex-Mormon videos « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  2. Sunday in Outer Blogness: Publicity and Gay Rights Edition! | Main Street Plaza
  3. Strange bedfellows for Progressive Mormons…at Wheat and Tares « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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