Wednesday, 15 September 2010

What's the scoop?

Megastars are notorious for throwing tantrums when things don't go their way. So it's highly likely that the Pope's closest advisors are currently learning to duck like Naomi Campbell's housekeeper as his Holiness vents his anger at the massive misfire of his forthcoming UK tour.

The whole venture has been one long PR disaster, from the politically charged atmosphere surrounding the abuse cover-ups to the 'embarrassment' caused by the creation of a pamphlet explaining Catholicism in more contemporary lingo.

Now, with the news that thousands of tickets remain unsold for what was promised to be a kneeling-room-only affair, the Catholic Church is having to try and convince the public that "Catholics are looking forward to this visit very much indeed". It's a good job, since the rest of the population seems decidedly non-plussed about the least anticipated tour since Cher's decade-long 'farewell'.

In a time of penny-pinching cutbacks, the estimated £12 million cost of the pontiff's visit is harder to swallow than a pillow-sized communion wafer. It's not all bad news though, since a BBC poll found that 70% of British Catholics believe that the Pope's visit will "help the Catholic Church in the UK".

One person who's delighted about the impending arrival of everyone's favourite one-time Nazi is ice cream maker Antonio Federici. His company's new ad campaign is notching up some major news coverage on account of its controversial depiction of lustfulness inside the church.

With its heavily eroticised imagery of pregnant nuns and interracial gay priests, the campaign has clearly been designed to get people hot under the dog-collar. And although the Advertising Standards Authority has demanded that the 'immaculately conceived' ad be discontinued, Federici plans to replace it with a similarly provocative image that would be "a continuation of the theme".

The press attention generated by the campaign must far outweigh the impact of whatever media spend has been invested so far, and media observers are now on the edge of their pew waiting to see what image will appear on poster sites around Westminster Abbey. Just don't be too surprised if it's a choir boy being offered a Rocky Road by his Father Confessor.

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