Saturday, July 14, 2007

Branding catholocism - What Will They Think of Next ? ? ? ?

From today's Toronto Star:

Benedict the Brander muscles his message
The Pope's focus on Catholic fundamentals scares reformers but works miracles, marketers say

Catherine Mulroney Special to the Star July 14, 2007

Call him the Bill Gates of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI, leader of more than 1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, is no stranger to controversy. Last Tuesday, he reasserted the primacy of the Catholic Church, stating it is the one true church. This following his approval of the broader use of the Latin Mass, has set critics' tongues wagging and refocused attention on church politics and practise.

Benedict's edicts, issued just before his summer vacation, have naysayers expressing concerns about everything from the political correctness of claiming church supremacy to fears it will soon become impossible to attend mass in the vernacular.

But numbers tell a different tale regarding his appeal to a core population of Catholics. The Vatican's financial statements for 2006, Benedict's first full year as pope, show a huge leap in donations to the papal charity known as Peter's Pence, ($101 million U.S. in 2006 versus $64.4 million the year before) in 2006, and the numbers of faithful flocking to St. Peter's Square in Rome are soaring. While marketing is likely the last thing on the Pope's mind, experts in that worldly field say Benedict's actions serve very powerfully to brand the Catholic Church in the eyes of the world, bringing a muscular "take-it-or-leave-it" approach to church positioning.

"Benedict is very progressive about his brand," says Patrick McGovern, vice-president of Blade Creative Branding, a Toronto-based marketing agency, who gives the Pope credit for clearly expressing the values a core constituency holds dear. "If everybody is wishy-washy, (the institution) will wash away."

For many people, belonging to a church with a unique chain of command leading up to the papacy has great appeal and reassurance, McGovern argues. Windows has Bill Gates. The Catholic Church has Benedict."

I'm putting my money on Bill Gates.

At least he has better fashion sense . . . .

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