Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mormon Marketing

So, I live in Utah.  Did you know that?  Most of you live here with me, or have lived here at some point, so what I'm about to discuss will make complete and total sense to you.  Those of you outside of Utah might not understand.  I'll do my best to make it make sense.

Our state "Place" -  the one in the which Brigham Young called "This Is" - is quite a funny place.  I'm sure that if'n Mr. Young were to make his way back, through Emigration Canyon of course, he'd stop, look around and holler "This is a Funny Place," instead of the historical "This is the Place." Sure of it.  The reasoning for my supposition of Brigham calling our state funny, is all because of something called Mormon Marketing.

Lemme essplain.

Utah's primary religious persuasion is LDS, also called The Church of Jesus Christ, also called Mormon.  And by primary, I do mean primary.  Like 72% of Utahns are Mormon (according to All About Mormons Dot Com.)  I'm part of that 72% and could leave you all with a paragraph or two that describes how proud I am to be Mormon, but we Mormons aren't supposed to be prideful.  So I'm proud to say that I wasn't lifted up with pride about my religious persuasion.

Mormons have their own language.  Did you know that?  That talk above yonder, that terminology about pride and being lifted up, that was Mormon talk.  Well, technically it was also Bible talk for there are many references to being lifted up with pride in the Bible.  First Timothy for starts.

Although I did grow up in Utah, I did not technically grow up Mormon.  (It's complicated.)  I spent a great deal of time and energy making fun of Mormons and their talk.  But then 'round about the age of 25, I had a softening of the heart (more Mormon talk) that sent me on over ta' the Bright Side.  I call it the Bright Side because it truly has created a Bright Side I never thought possible.  True story.  No kidding aside.  So now I'm one of those full-fledged Mormon personages that I used to make fun of.  Oh the internal conflict!  Still Bright Side conflict, mind you, but internal conflict none-the-less.

Before I continue, it's important that I insert a big fat red exclaimer, but in a black font:  I am not an authorized spokesperson for my religion. No siree. That's why the Good One Above has placed me behind the piano on Sundees.  For the last five years, that's where I've been - behind the piano.  Those in charge don't want me flapping my sarcastic gums and cynical vocals.  Incidentally, if I do talk, no one will hear me because I'm way over there behind the piano.  That Good One Above is so wise, yes?

Ever sa' often, there are little things that Mormons do that kinda just make me shake my head and say, "What the heck!" This "What the heck!" phrase is also Mormon talk.  More often, it's "Oh my heck!" but "What the heck!" works just as good as "Oh my heck!" for getting the exclamatory point across - whatever that exclamatory point may be.

It seems the Mormons in Utah have some trouble determining the difference between culture and religious doctrine.  It seems.  Not all Utah Mormons are this way, I'm not saying that.  I'm not trying to make blanket statements here, even though it appears that I'm making blanket statements, which is way funny because you should see the blankets I've made (bad!)  There are many Mormons out there that do not know the difference between culture and religious doctrine.

Since some Mormons presume their cultural anomalies to be religious doctrine, business owners around here go to great lengths to capitalize on it.  They take a skewed cultural tradition and billboard it to the bank.  If you're a business owner, it makes complete sense to harness this 72% Mormon populace and the money that this 72% spends, don't you think?  I mean, if you're marketing a product, it makes complete sense to find a campaign or two that speaks Mormon. 

Would you care for an example of this Mormon Marketing?  Oh good.  I was hoping you'd say yes.  Here in town, there's this store, boutique actually, called.... wait for it.... get this... Sexy Modest.

Why is it that I'm the only one around here that finds the naming of this women's clothing store drop-down-roll-around funny?  I mean seriously.  Sexy Modest?

Let's break it down.  According to the Dictionary Communists at (just kidding, they aren't communists, I just think it's funny to refer to dot com as being short for communists,) here's the definition for Sexy:

–adjective, sex-ey, sex·i·er, sex·i·est.

1. concerned predominantly or excessively with sex; risqué: a sexy novel. 2. sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality: the sexiest professor on campus. 3. excitingly appealing; glamorous: a sexy new car.

And now it's time for Modest:

–adjective, mod-est

1. having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions. 2. free from ostentation or showy extravagance: a modest house. 3. having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent: a modest neckline on a dress. 4. limited or moderate in amount, extent, etc.: a modest increase in salary.

Sexy Modest. Isn't that the funniest freakin' thing you've ever heard?  I can see it now.  Mormon mom of 14-year-old daughter says, "Dolores dear, we need to get you some new clothes.  Your new clothes must be modest because our religion promotes modesty.  But Dolores dear, you should still dress sexy.  I want you sexy.  I want every dude in school, every dude in town, lusting after your tight little bod."

That was bad, sorry.  But still!  Geez!  Maybe the public around here has a different meaning for sexy.  Who knows!  My definition for sexy is rather clear, however.  To me, sexy means Jump Me Now.

To fit in with the culture, we could modify that definition of course.  How about:  Jump Me Now Modestly.


***Notice that I didn't include a link to their web site.  I don't want the owner hunting me down and inviting me to lunch.  Good grief I'd have to wear something sexy.  If you don't believe me, just get out your googley and search fer it.  Sexy.  Modest.  Utah.


Jessica said...

Dude, theys gots an online store! An online store for me to buy tons of this Sexy Modest goodness.

Thank you for doing your part to spread the good word about this. I will bookmark the site so I can reference it when my [unborn] daughters finally reach the appropriate age to flaunt their sexy-modest bods.

Sparks said...





The billboards I see when I come to town are mind boggling. Unfortunately, my mind is so boggled right now that I can't recall any specifics, but I don't think I need to.

lifein360 said...

I am dying to say something trite and sarcastic but I am unsure of the Mormons stance on revenge and karma. So I'll just sit here browsing the jeans that are on sale.

tom lindsey said...

You know how some sweaters, dresses, pants, shirts, etc. come with a button sewn on the inside as a spare?

These folks should replace it with a condom: Sexy, Modest, and Safe.

Julie said...

Oh brotha....The one I can't get over is the billboard that advertises something like modest lingerie or something like "Between Husband and Wife" or something to that affect. If you're concerned about modesty in the bedroom then maybe you've got some deep-seeded issues that need addressing. I'm just sayin.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Utah's economy is based almost entirely on mormons selling other mormons stuff that only mormons are interested in.

The tiny little part of it that's not based on that is based on not-mormons selling other not-mormons and lapsed mormons stuff that mormons definitely are NOT interested in (or at least would not admit to being interested in during a temple recommend interview). Which is why we have so many breweries here.

Oh, and 360, don't sweat the revenge/karma thing. Mormons aren't too big on revenge other than the whole blood atonement thing.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Oh, here's one more thing I just thought of. When I was going to BYU, I heard an ad on the radio that went something like this (cue radio announcer with deep, shouts-all-the-time voice):

"LIVE, from the David O. MacKay Special Events Center, OZZIE OSBOURNE!"

True story.

Keli said...

Freakin' Mormons. We're weird. And we bring it on ourselves. ;)

rabidrunner said...

Megan (sparks) you've coined a new phrase, one in the which I will use frequently: oxymormon. The world is full of 'em. Hell, I might even be one. Prolly am.

Lifein360, that was funny. Very funny. However, I doubt there's anything you'd say that I haven't already thought. Notice I said "thought" not "said."

Junkie, just looked up the firing squad thing. I don't read or watch the news so now I didn't know about that. Not sure how I feel about that one... except I don't like the look of jubilee shown on the faces of the victim's families. No one should be happy about another dying... ever.

Oh and Ozzy with Brother McKay? I want to know if Ozzy decapitated a bat with his jaws. I've seen him do that, true story. So what's next for the McKay center, Trent Reznor? 'Cept no one in Utah will let him come back... looked frantically for a link that documents his scandal but cannot find one.

Keli - yip, we're weird. Peculiar, one might say.

rabidrunner said...

Oh and Jessica, you're quite welcome. Just doing my part.

rabidrunner said...

Also just learned that the Mckay center has been renamed. Where the heck have I been?

rabidrunner said...

Oh dear, I've neglected Julie. I'm so on your page with that one. I'm not saying I'm modest. I'm also not saying I'm sexy. I'm just sayin' that you will never find me trying to be sexy and modest at the same time Modest sex is just plain boring.

rabidrunner said...

Yo Tom. LMFAO and I never LMFAO. Mostly because I like to do this with words instead of acronyms. But your comment, dear friend, earned my first LMFAO.

rabidrunner said...

Anyone tired of my comments yet? I can keep going...

Jessica said...

I love your comments. I love that half of the comments in this post are your own. It shows your passion for this Sexy Modest bidness.

Ryan said...

brilliant. full stop. 

frickin' awesome. 

this place takes the "in/of" conundrum and serves up its disparate views like carrots and cranberry jell-o. a delightsome and divine duality. moderation in all things indeed. 

radracer said...

It seems that everyone is enjoying the main content while I am spending most of my energy laughing about the "I don't want the owner hunting me down and inviting me to lunch." comment. I'm going to have sore abs from this one. Maybe if I laugh hard enough over this I can develop a modest sexy six-pack.

Makell said...

I totally see this brand going global! Sexy Modest - I'm going to pass that term on to our YW leaders. They can use it in their next lesson! I still think your "Jump Me Now Modestly" tag would be a great name for a cute little Provo boutique. Fabulous!

C.C. said...

Your commentary was amazing. "Modest sex is just plain boring." Too funny.

Winder said...

Once again I have missed the boat on the comments. I was in another place for a few days.

I have been in that there "Sexy Modest" store. Let me tell you there is not a whole lot of "modest" being sold. Therefore you must buy an incredibly expensive "undershirt" made of "fabulous" fabric to go under whatever you purchase to make it modest. Classic. I think I can do that from purchases made at any number of stores and save me a pretty penny.

Furthermore my sis-in-law had a lovely experience with a purchase from The Sexy Modest. There is a little sign under the glass on the checkout counter that says something about store credit for all returns or something like that. The owner just happens to place the items you are buying on top of said sign. Then you don't get a printed receipt one is "emailed" to you. When you attempt to return a purchase you are then told you can only have store credit that must be used within a week or some absurd time limit. To top it all off the sis-in-law paid with cash and credit. There was no proof of her cash payment on the receipt. Thank goodness she had the lawyering Delmar to threaten Mr. Sexy Modest with. He quickly handed over cash and began stumbling over words profusely. Long story short the store really is a joke. Never go there. Unless you really want to I guess you can.

Anonymous said...

Really? Feel better now that you've bashed a great store? I love this store, maiinly for the price, and the limited number of items they get in. If you buy a beautiful shirt here, you will never run into someone else at school wearing the same. The stock rotates very quickly, and the accessories are to die for. Maybe ya'll ought to get off your computers, and venture out into the wide open world before you judge a store by its name, or a book by its cover, or a religion by its......oh yeah, you proclaim to be Morman. Then live it.

rabidrunner said...

I'm not bashing the store. Never been in the store. I am bashing the name of the store.

All Mormons are free to choose where they shop. It ain't personal, it ain't about being Mormon, it's the beauty of capitalism, babe. Show me where it says, "Thou shalt not criticize mormon business owners, even though you don't believe in their concept" and I'll abide by that commandment like the rest that I try so hard to abide by.

Yes, I'm Mormon. But you'll never find me claiming to be a good one. Do I try? You bet.

Happy shopping. And FYI, you can shop on your computers now. So we don't have to get to see the wide open world, we can see it on our computers!

P.S. It ain't personal to you either. You and I could still be friends after going through this disagreement. To me, that's what Mormons should do you know, let us each be different.

Sparks said...

Rabid's not a MorMAN. She's a MorWOMAN. A Mormon. We really ought to get that clear right up front.

I too am a Mormon.

Get over yourself, Anon. You're making yourself look the fool.

Sexy Modest. Let's leave the definitions of the words aside and the hilarity of the paradox and the fact that the name reveals that the store owners are trying so desperately to straddle a line that doesn't need straddling. No, instead let's touch on the fact that it's a terrible name. It's not catchy. It's not interesting. It's socially limiting. It's misleading.

It's not the clothes that make a modest person sexy. It's the person wearing them. And sexy is a word with many different interpretations and therefore connotations. But if we're giving sexy the most pure of interpretations--a savvy appeal emphasizing womanhood and the draw therein--the clothes aren't going to do the job for a gal. The gal has to do the work herself, and that's going to come from confidence and an understanding of oneself.

And modest? My gosh. Let us decide for ourselves. Don't tell me that. Let me decide if something is modest. It's like when some boutique decides to call themselves StylishSomethingorother. You're calling yourself stylish? That makes me certain that you're not or that your definition of stylish requires explanation. Don't tell me that something's modest. Don't tell me that everything I find in your store will be sexy and modest. I guarantee I'll disagree with you at least once.

It's a terrible name for a store.

If we're good at marketing we target our store's name and our branding at that particular segment we're aiming for. Obviously, Sexy Modest wasn't aiming for me and wasn't aiming for Rabid, and if they were they missed by a long shot. We're not the kind who are going to shop at such a place. That's the interesting part of Mormon marketing--it's based on cultural assumptions. And the problem with cultural assumptions is that they're limiting and very often incorrect.

Banana Republic. It doesn't label me when I walk through the doors. J. Crew. It doesn't label me when I walk through the doors. Instead, a label's applied when I purchase the clothes because of the kind of style they're known for and whatever price tag is typically attached, not because I walked through the doors in the first place.

Walking through the doors of a place called Sexy Modest disturbs me because it tells me that I either a) am looking for someone to tell me what sexy is; b) am unable to find clothes I deem modest in mainstream stores and am therefore either lazy or not creative; c) I am culturally in line with the targeted Utah Valley stereotype. If you're okay with those things or are seeking to embrace them, then Sexy Modest is for you.

And shopping online? Well that's something that gives me time for the freedom to actually interact with people in my out-in-the-world day-to-day living. I'd so much rather sit at a restaurant with Rabid and Jessica and talk than wander through a store. I get the shopping done when it's not business hours so that I don't waste my time shuffling through racks of shirts and instead enjoy my friends.

We all choose how we approach our in-the-world time. Apparently you choose shopping. Good for you. I choose my people.

Over and out.