SALT LAKE CITY — Posted online at the beginning of the week — Palm Sunday — the YouTube Easter video at the center of a large LDS Church media campaign surpassed 2.6 million views in five days.
The number of people who watch the "Because of Him" video may spike on Easter Sunday due to a major media buy.
The front page of YouTube gets 109 million visitors per day, and on Easter those visitors will see two 30-second versions of "Because of Him" promoted on the wildly popular website's masthead by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Those condensed versions — one in English and one in Spanish — invite viewers to click and watch the full video and visit a website, Mormon.org/BecauseofHim.
The YouTube promotion will cap a weeklong surge of banner ads, daily memes and videos posted on hundreds of websites. All of the messages proclaim that Mormons believe Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who overcame sorrow and death for all people.
"He was a carpenter, a teacher, an outcast, a leader," says text in the "Because of Him" video. "Yet he did what no carpenter, teacher, outcast, leader had ever done. Like all who preceded him, he lived, and he died. But unlike all who preceded him, he rose from the dead. ... He lives."
Elder David F. Evans, executive director of the church's Missionary Department, told the Church News he anticipated the campaign would reach more than 100 million people on YouTube alone via the advertising impressions.
“When you think about how long it would take for missionaries to contact this many people, it becomes clear how important technology is in the work of our Heavenly Father," Elder Evans said. "The Easter holiday is the ideal time for us to help people remember all that is possible because of Jesus Christ."
A Utah social media consultant called the LDS campaign "a terrific success."
"It leveraged a powerful component of social media, the community itself, to uniquely create and share content personal to them, and tie it back to the brand — in this case, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Jesse Stay, author of "Google+ For Dummies." "I saw it trend on both Facebook and Twitter, and the views on Youtube show it is not just reaching church members. I have a feeling the church achieved what they wanted out of this, and more."
The initiative includes Facebook and Twitter promotions — the hashtag is #BecauseofHim — and invites people to "discover all that’s possible because of him."
The 2-minute, 45-second video has no dialogue but includes text that fades in and out over scenes from Christ's life and video of people from around the world.
"Because of him," the text says, "guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief, despair becomes hope."
On YouTube, the video's comment section is full of positive responses. Many people asked about the scenes from Christ's life. Those came from the LDS Church's recent Bible video series "The Life of Christ." A group of the Easter-related selections from those videos is gathered together in the media library on the church's website, LDS.org.
One commenter said he watched the "Because of Him" video multiple times.
"Three minutes?" Marc Carey wrote Friday afternoon. "I think I spent at least 15 so far watching it over and over. I'm Roman Catholic and I love this video."
Those who click through to the "Because of Him" website are encouraged there to share the Easter story on social media. They can chat "with a Mormon” online, request an in-person visit with missionaries, request a copy of the Holy Bible or learn more about the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
More than 1.9 million people had watched the full video in English as of Friday afternoon. Another 730,000 had viewed it in Spanish. It is available in 18 other languages.
A second video-driven Easter campaign designed in Salt Lake City also seeks to inspire viewers to use Christ's Resurrection to change for the better.
"Starting today," the campaign says, "you can change your life, because of how one day started, 2,000 years ago."
"He left the tomb behind," it continues, "so we can leave our past behind and be reshaped, rebuilt and restart, again and again and again."