Pope Poses Eternal Question: Who’s the Target Market?
Haven't We Seen This Positioning Before?
We’re only days into the new papacy, and already Benedict XVI is honing the Church’s positioning and strategy. And have you noticed how similar the Vatican strategy is to the Karl Rove strategy? "Dictatorship of Relativism" is linguistic genius, up there with "Right to Life” as a meme. What a brilliant way to frame the issue: anyone who isn’t a doctrinal hard-liner is now cast as a wayward westerner, rolling his own morality, with no reliable sense of good and evil, and quite possibly a secular humanist with no need for God. This is up there with Rove implying that all Democrats are faith-free people.
Both Bush and Benedict XVI are playing to a very conservative base. Difference is, if you live in a democracy and you’re outvoted you still gotta obey the law. If the President gets a tax passed, you pay. If gay marriage is illegal, gays don't get married. If conservative judges get appointed, we all get judged conservatively. In religion, when folks get fed up they actually have the option not to go to church, or ignore teachings, or more actively, change sects or religions. Just ask Martin Luther. Ratzinger would prefer to have fewer, but more devout followers.
This is an accepted brand strategy, but implementing it is tricky and I’m not sure it’s the best way to manage an already huge, mass-brand religion. It certainly doesn’t look like a growth strategy. I’ve been around this mass/targeted market issue my whole career, and since the new pope hasn’t appointed his deputies yet, I figure I have a responsibility to chime in.