LDS Church Stocks Tumble Amid Product Recall
With falling market share across all important demographics—including 15-24 year olds, 35-49, the dead aged 99-699, preexistent spirits aged 0-eternal—the share prices of the LDS Church have fallen to an all time, all eternity low. “Don’t hyperventilate,” lead product designer Jeff Holland replied to questions about the latest line that failed to meet consumer needs, “if from time to time, or from one eternity to the next, things come up with our products which require a wait-and-see approach, this is how our CEO Jesus—the first of mixed heritage for a Fortunate500 company, I might add—drives the demand that prepares this team for a bright future.” They have the capital to wait out soft patches in the spiritual economy, notes noted investment guru Terry Givens of Gay Global Capital, “and given the long term approach that has made the Catholic church a global brand with deep reach into the hearts of consumers of both divine blood and heavenly flesh, it only makes sense to follow their Pope-it-until-you-Taupe-it whitewash strategy.” Two thousand years should be long enough for the Church to rebrand itself, for by then the facts of history will long be forgotten, he pointed out. Or rewritten by me, he whispered with a giggle off the record.
Five hundred quarters should be sufficient, an anonymous insider explains, to bring about a return of the LDS Brand to the stratospheric value thresholds it reached before the digital age. But investors are not so sure. They view the reach around into the chain of fast-thought political franchises a stumble that gave short term results, but at the cost of long term purchasing decline curves. “The whole we-love-gays-being-celebate-consumers, we-hate-gays-having-married-sex product,” one analyst explained, “is so 2004. They’ve tried to move ahead with we-tolerate-you-gays-isn’t-that-enough, but response has been tepid at best, driving some loyal consumers of Mormonism to question whether the brand has the hard-heartedness to succeed in today’s cut-throat-don’t-be-a-queen reality. No one has a hard-on for it, if you know what I mean.” Indeed, where once lines extended around the block for product releases like the Manhattan TempleTM, the Utah Olympic GamesTM, and when even the practice of baptizing the names of Holocaust victims could arouse questions regarding the aggressiveness of the board, today it is so, ho-hum hum-drum meh-banality that marks their recent lines, it seems. “I thought the new mall would really revive the brand,” a loyal consumer of Mormonism said, “but it doesn’t really meet our needs for a stronger family. Where is the StrongFamily app we’ve been promised? I tried the previous release, and it made my young man anything but stronger; he’s a total cry-baby, not even fit to take his slaps from the invisible hand. And don’t get me started on my husband. He practices virtual polygamy with Sister Righty and Lefty, if you know what I mean, and delights not in a quiver full of arrows and a home shining with Gospel sunbeams of children. I need a new StrongFamily app. Or another family to practice eternal consumer habits with, at least one evening a week, anyway.”
While the strategy of branding their brand as family-friendly, wholesome and readymade for the G-rated-only crowd seemed like a long running winner, it is clear from recent quarterly returns that the strategy’s half life was reached in the 1980s, when the line was producing peak returns, and VCRs were only occasionally used for pirating pornography.
“It’s the lead paint of stupidity,” fund manager Xenon explained, “they painted their Prophet product with, that is what is causing the most recent slide.” Indeed, most funds expect a major product recall, as the Prophet—cheaply made overseas for a century, constructed initially of alloyed ignorance, but more recently fabricated almost entirely of unalloyed ignorance, and then coated with the paint of simple-minded smugness—has faced major competition from The Prophet2.0, released by The World. The new release is a polygamist-mystic-peeper-of-hats, and it is hard to compete with such a spectacular model, it seems. “The Prophet we are providing only met the needs of consumers,” one insider willing to speak off the record explained, “when there was no competing The Prophets. Now, with all these other Joseph Smiths being fabricated and sold—often by fly-by-night operations, even on the black market of ‘historically documented’ contraband—I just don’t think we can revamp the line in time to save it.” It was once their golden goose, the Prophet, the first in the now common line of low cost front end consumer entertainment devices called the Living Prophets.
This consumption-content-driven line directs viewers to higher priced, low yield (for consumer), high margin-for-the-company apps like “Tithing,” “Scouting,” “Strengthening,” and “Callings”. Such apps, even updated versions, have not brought consistent returns to consumers in more recent years; some even have requested refunds for products which fail to bring results. “Dese were major innovations in deir day,” says Guido of SicilianTufGuysFunds, “I mean, who woulda tot the Prophet would lead consumers to buy up every General Conference, Tithing, Family Home Evening, even BYU Football, every season? Often dey just tweaked a little here, a pin stripe dere, a tanner apostle here, it was brilliant, f-ing brilliant, and even their less-hard-core Mormons would reliably consume everyting dey churned out. Now, not so much. Itsa gonna be a rough patch for the Mormon Guys. I wish em da worst luck in the world, blessed be mother Mary. Couldn’t happen to a worse bunch of fruitcakes.”
Indeed, rather than re-release the Prophet in a more organic form, as some consultants have suggested—say, with pleasing earthiness, a nuttiness at the back end, and a mellow, oaky club wielded on the crown of doubters—it has been suggested they might revamp their Corolla of books, the Book of Mormon. This is a product they’ve gotten millions of miles driving around on, and so have their loyal consumers. Even detractors seem comfortable in the driver’s seat of this dependable ride. Its throw-back style, even anachronistic buttons don’t seem to worry most consumers, it seems, so we don’t expect a total revision of the book.
Instead, look for the Mormon Church (NYSE: MooCH) to diversify its investment portfolio, divest itself of low yielding performers, franchise or license its “House of Israel” line, and possibly grow its brand in other non-human markets like Computer Avatars, Pokemon characters (“damn easy to baptize” it is said), invisible men (priesthood holders have always been a premium market), and even pets. “Yeah, I think they’ll start baptizing pets soon,” another insider hinted, “there’s a few brainstorms charging up the ol’ electrons at West Temple, and I think pets are definitely on the table. So are house plants. I mean, here we’ve been ignoring an often mistreated segment, one with real cachet, sometimes even crochet, surrounding it. Why not? Low risk, High Yield. Maybe even vicarious work for house plants, who knows?” When asked for comment, the Mormon Church spokesbot David-BeNDar2000 explained, “operations, systems, multi-functionality, exceeding expectations, process, process, steps to success, synergizes hot button, hot button, insert buzz word, blip blip, brrrrrrr . . .”
Diversify: Advisers to the board suggest the long term option for inflating share value is to diversify operations, with a diversity of administrations. In practical terms, this would mean an expansion of the trademark to cover consumer goods like towelettes, pet carriers, plant foods, toothpaste and other non-luxury consumables. They may also, sources suggest, consider investing current revenue into branded family-fun centers, using their considerable leverage in the real estate market to convert existing properties into Celestial Funneries. The risk, of course, to trademark dilution, and alienating loyal brand followers is a consideration. But experts reveal that Heaven is more of an “attitude,” rather than a place, and so transference of that Heaven-Attitude into non-traditional religious spaces may be risk worth taking on. Whether they can control the pirating of that attitude remains to be seen, as the copy-righting of Happiness—eliminating non-licensed vendors of happiness, that is—and its failure, has long been a thorn in the grey, dessicated flesh of church leaders.
Divest: The short term solution to flagging share value is the divestment of current low-revenue religious spaces. The genealogical indexing program has been a robust failure, as the conversion of computer files into human capital has been slow and labor intensive, riddled like an old man’s pockets, with bugs. The charitable works department could easily be converted into a more revenue positive growth opportunity, as disabled workers employed by Deseret Industries could be “rented” out to holiday-goers at Disneyland, or even to Utah’s Lagoon or local Carnivals, on busier weekends. Moreover, there remains plenty of value to extract from the disabled bodies who often work for pennies per hour sorting soiled underwear into bins. A little revelation would go a long way to securing that value yield. Why not pay them to dance holding clever signs at busy intersections? While not divesting, such moves would show that Mormonism is able to compete at the speed of business, and willing to forego human rights when the numbers are in their favor. “Mormons Hot-n-Ready” or “Salvation, Nothing Down” signage carried by physically disabled dancers would surely attract the needed fast-salvation, low-interaction demographic the Church has traditionally ignored. In any case, these bodies could be used in various high value temple spaces, say, for $.18 per hour, paid to be baptized for all the dead cats in Zanzibar.
The Cannery operations could easily be converted into high yield ammunition manufacture, a subject currently under discussion at the highest levels of heaven. Other spaces, like pews, offer enticing advertising space for companies seeking to reach above average-to-executive level income populations, captive in spaces designed for maximum sensory deprivation. Having shown surprising resilience to government-industry collaborative experiments that stretch human boredom thresholds, the Mormon consumer base offers plenty of opportunities for product testing across a variety of goods.
Other value-adding opportunities exist in this body-rich environment maintained by the Church. The annual “Trek” conducted by thousands of youth, pulling handcarts over the hills of Wyoming for several days offers another divestment. This department of Trekkers is enticing to many companies, having brand loyalty and eager consumers of three-days spent walking in fake pioneer fashion. The church has fielded a number of offers from energy companies seeking alternate energy resources, particularly natural gas producers who need feet on the ground, eager bodies willing to cart heavy machinery, and plenty of devotion. Hamster-wheel production firms also show interest in the Trek Department, as these firms seek to expand their market into non-rodent populations, with an eye on teenagers as the likeliest demographic to buy-in to the notion of walking for reasons none can explain, except that it sucks. Treadmill manufacturers have an eye on the Trek department as well, and may make an offer soon, as human testers of treadmills have a half-life of eighteen months, and are always in high demand.
Franchise: An overlooked revenue stream may be the most cost-effective. The Mormon Church is currently considering franchising some of its operations to other non-religious entities. Third-tier prepared food corporations like Burger King may see value in converting empty dining rooms into chapels. Moreover, the conversion of burger-production cycles and work-flow from patties to fatties promises real synergy when one considers the same processes have been used by the Mormon Church for decades. A coarse slurry of Revelation could be sourced from a variety of low-cost vendors like pop-psychologists, licensed “shamans” spouting “native wisdom,” corporate consultants, self-help gurus looking to economize their operations, sophomore philosophy students, and politicos preaching “value-based” voting. When blended with a proprietary formula (“The Words of the Living Prophet”), such calorie rich, fiber dense slop can be provided at low cost, reaching high volumes across many platforms. A Drive-thru religion, losing none of the feel-good-feel-bad dynamic, is surely an approach enticing many high down-time operations like Fastfood, school cafeterias, Lube-n-Tire guys, and other under-thirty-minutes service providers.
It remains to be seen whether the experiment of blending pizza delivery services with missionary messages will yield the ROI shareholders were promised, however.
High emotional investment, low predictability, zero involvement: three features to look for when franchising religious services. Surely, a Mormon Church section in sports stadiums, with seats like pews, a dress code, and higher standards of diet, affection, and speech could be a real “money-getter” to the team lucky enough to secure that franchise. Other spaces meeting these three criteria include high-seas fishing expeditions, birth rooms for nervous fathers, testing centers at universities, the traditional foxhole, and ladies’ night at clubs are also spaces where divine intervention is sought, and where priestly vestments offer low risk, high yield opportunities to the entrepreneur willing to sell premium access to said intervention at above the going rates offered in more traditional, high-maintenance spaces like chapels.
Licensing: Not sufficient on its own, but when blended with a variety of approaches listed above, licensing could be a very profitable endeavor to the corporation owning the trademark The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Church,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” and “Saints” are well known and high-value terms, and show high marks for trustworthiness, consistency of product, and customer satisfaction. Why not “emphasize” these terms in the logo, and offer a selection of emphases for products currently in need of boosts in these three areas (trust, etc.). Who would not rush to buy lawnmowers under that “Jesus Christ” brand? Or tampons “powered” by “the Melchizedek priesthood”? Or a line of aerosol deodorants approved by the Quorum of Seventy? Why not license the trademark to tire manufacturers and other durable goods makers? Brand dilution is not a serious risk in durable goods, and the synergy of a trusted brand adding “power” to products of otherwise dubious reliability can promote trust and consumer satisfaction, regardless of the quality of the product (as religion has demonstrated for two thousand years).
The “House of Israel” brand has waned lately in value, although it is probable that consumers in the West Bank, and the Middle East in general might find the license very attractive, if packaged right, for the long term.
Hints of Merger: We always listen half-heartedly to rumors of merger, but in these days of leveraged buy outs, we take them more seriously. Is the LDS Church considering merging with other Restorationist movements like the Campbellite Church of Christ, or the Community of Christ? Whether profit-positive synergy would result is a matter left to seers and revelators, of course, but we cannot see reasons why both churches would not benefit from a well-structured merger. Of more interest, however, is the expansion of the LDS brand into emerging markets in Asia. Thus, we expect the Church to merge with China-intelligent firms like McDonalds, Coca-Cola, durable good makers like Duracel, digital firms like Cisco and Intel (“powered by the Gospel” or “Jesus Christ stands at the head of Samsung”), and video game makers (“Knect+Seership”). Entertainment providers like Disney and Pixar could add value to temple films, General Conference, and BYU Tuesday Talks, using their knowledge of advertising best-practices to magnify the revenue of these spaces. Imagine a product held by Adam in the Garden: “What is that? Asks Jehovah. It’s the best cable-and-internet package in the Intermountain Region: Xfinity. That’s what it is, Boo-yah!”
Acquisition: It is also likely that the LDS Church will acquire some newly offered public religion, emerging psychological theory, or corporate mythology, although insiders declined to comment on specifics. One outsider source confirmed, however, that the LDS Church has made aggressive offers to Judaism, seeking at least a share of its “We’ve Been Persecuted for Three Thousand Years” brand, and additional properties in the “Four Thousand Years of Tradition” line. Such acquisitions would give added value to the Restoration model of the LDS Church, an old business plan of questionable insight, which claims to exist in the same form since the Days of Adam. Indeed, the strategy seems to be to also buy out Native Americans eager for cash, and to obtain their “Lands of Inheritance” quit-claims for many generations. This title would give the Mormon Church rights and revenue streams independent of their current operations, effectively offering them options to claim all “lands” and all “inheritances” the Lord, the government, their grandparents, or anyone else might bequeath or gift to them. Moreover, should they make good, at last, on their attempt to Whiten-and-Delighten the Native Americans, they would obtain access to and profits from casino and spa operations, and the influx of capital would be sufficient to carry the brand through the Millennium.
Finally, we expect the LDS Church to buy majority-rights shares in both Darwinian Evolution and Biblical Creationism, Gay Rights and Gay Bashing, Feminism and Homemakers Anonymous, NAACP and KKK, CitiBank and CreditCounseling, Polygamy and Monogamy, Theocracy and Democracy, Capitalism and Socialism, the Internet and the Luddite Group, Gerontocracy and Ageism, Schizophrenia and Identity Politics. Anywhere the calculations are win-win, where the sacrifice is suffered by others, where the benefits are claimed by the few and the cost by the many, where deception is called “marketing” and little hints good enough for one to conclude special witnessing, where money can be made in the service of God: that is a holy place. Here shall they stand.