By Clifton French (email@example.com)
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4:50 PM EDT, October 4, 2011
A Mormon advertising campaign is targeting South Bend with television commercials. It's called the "I'm a Mormon," campaign and it started on Monday. The church-led campaign is paying for advertisements in 12 cities throughout the country, including Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and South Bend.
"We're normal people just like everyone else, we have a faith in Jesus Christ and we're happier for it," Tayler Munguia, a Mormon missionary from Texas who is working in South Bend said.
Munguia's work is typically the way the church spreads its word by sending missionaries door to door. He hopes this new approach will help change the way people view his faith.
"People can see (Mormons are) normal people with real problems with real lives, they're not this polygamist group that's crazy," Munguia said.
The ads are simple. They show normal people who just happen to be Mormons. The advertisements then direct people to visit the church's website, www.Mormon.org.
But why target the South Bend area?
"It's actually not just South Bend that's being targeted, it's the entire state of Indiana," Tyson Lee, the Bishop of the Mishawaka Mormon congregation said.
Lee says the church has been doing media campaigns across the country for years. Indiana is now just a good target.
"There's a lot of rich culture here, a lot of different demographics here, so the church sees Indiana as an opportunity for us to get our name out there, let people get to know what the church is about," Lee said.
The church is also using billboards and advertising on buses in other cities. There are nine billboards in the Indianapolis area, but none near South Bend.
Church officials in Salt Lake City, Utah, say they hope to change the perception of Mormons as portrayed through television shows such as "Big Love" and "Sister Wives."
Officials also say the church is politically neutral. The church decided to advertise in states that don't have early primaries as to not influence any political race while two Mormons, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, run for the Republican presidential nomination.
Other cities where the ads are being seen are Phoenix, Arizona; Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; Spokane and Seattle, Washington; Austin and San Antonio, Texas and Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. The ads will continue to run through March of 2012.
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