So Pope Benedict XVI has resigned. Wearing a big gold hat is tought at any age, and it must be equally hard living in the largest inhabited palace on the face of the earth, surrounded by an army of supporters and providers. Power to you, B-16 (I always thought you’d missed a trick there. Just as John Paul the Second was JP2, you could have been B-16. The kids would have called you Bensen or Volvo . It would have been hip.)
Joking aside, and regardless of politics or religion, I admire the Catholic Church. A lot of good has come out of it over the years (I’m thinking of you, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello, and the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles*) The church is the most successful business in the history of the world: it opened its doors nearly two millennia ago, and it’s been selling forgiveness and hope of an afterlife for longer than most countries have existed. Whoever the New Pope (Diet Pope? Cherry Pope? Crystal Pope-si? Ohhangonthatdoesn’twork) is, I have a few (respectful) suggestions for you, in order for you to compete with other big businesses like Wal-Mart or Tesco. Here’s my idea for a rebranding exercise. Adopt the change, and we can push the two billion mark!
1) Outfit Change
Look guys, the gold leaf and silk is very twelfth century. Plus, those robes, while ceremonially important, look pretty heavy and cumbersome. Ditto the big crooks and massive hats. I think we can go somewhere with this. Lots of companies have dress codes, but I don’t think tabards and sleeveless shirts really match the feel of the company. Out goes the silk and cotton, gold thread and crimson. In comes Armani, Versace, Prada and Hugo Boss. We’re talking sleek lambswool and ties. Cravats, maybe. We might even be able to swap the crooks and hats for Bowlers and umbrellas. Basically, guys, I’m thinking English and Croatian meet Italian. I’m thinking Wall Street. I’m thinking suave.
2) Lose The Company History
Who remembers that Monsanto produced Agent Orange or IBM built the computers that made the Holocaust possible? Who remembers Hugo Boss designed the SS uniforms? Nobody, that’s who. Guess why? History can be rewritten. Companies do it all the time, and you can too.
For starters, let’s ditch all that Crusades thing – it doesn’t go down so well in Turkey and the Middle East. Let’s lose the bit where you dug up John Wycliffe and burned his body, too. Same for the Templar Knights thing. Refusal to accept the Galilean theory can be swept under the carpet. The Inquisition might be a bit of stretch.
Ditch the negative and focus on the positive. Let’s talk art. Let’s talk architecture. Let’s talk hope for a billion lost and worried souls. Let’s talk up the good stuff. Focus on the buzzwords. I’ll start you off:
“The Catholic Church started as a grassroots, forward-thinking movement, motivated by go-getters with noble ideals. It wasn’t their intention to reinvent the wheel. Rather, they wanted to take a rain check, to see what was coming down the pipe, to sing from the same hymn sheet and drill down into the data… “
3) One Word: Merger
Getting into bed with other companies is a time-honored way of doubling your customer pool. You open up to all sorts of different avenues. You have to start small, of course (customers are pretty resistant to change), but I’m thinking Mosque-Church double deals. Posters of Allah and Jesus bonding over a cup of tea. Strap-lines like: “It’s the same god, stupid!”.
4) Discount Deals
Consumers love getting a bargain. I’m seeing billboards, gents. I’m seeing “buy one baptism, get one free!” See that? Customers will have more babies, baddabing-badda-boom, two Catholics for the price of one. Game, set and match, gentlemen! The numbers make it so. How about “two confessions for the price of one”? That ramps up the sin, because consumers want to make the most of their confessions. Ramp up the sin, ramp up the guilt. Bingo: more donations. Can I get a Hallelujah?
5) Venue Changes
Let’s face it: Churches are so Tenth Century. People want air-conditioning. They want central-heating. They want bitching acoustics and beanbag chairs. They want to get mobile internet while they get sermonised. It’s a no-brainer: nobody wants to be chilly and grim in a barn on a Sunday morning when they can be in a Ball-pit with their kids.
6) More Women
And not just more women – more power to women! You may have heard about this little thing called The Feminist Movement. Women can vote. They can run for office. They can even own property, for goodness sake! Time to let them in the club, gents. It can’t remain a sausage-fest – you’re losing a whole demographic of empowered women there. There’ve gotta be priestesses and lady-bishops all over the place. Giggling. Having wet-cassock contests. It sells itself, and then the sinful thoughts get more confessions. Like fish in a barrel, chaps.
7) An App
Sort of a “A Pray A Day” thing. For iPhone or Android. But not Blackberry. Nobody uses those.
8) Lose the Condom Thing
God doesn’t care if you put something on the end of it. He has the environment to deal with. Does this need explaining?
There you go, guys. Let me know if I’ve got the job re-branding your company.
*Or if you prefer, the Prepubescent Mutagenic Ninjitsu Chelonians