Monday, April 11, 2011

Year of the Mass: Break out the felt cloth and the Elmer's glue! Helloooo New Springtime!

Back at the end of 2010, in response to the blatant abandonment of the Church by the vast majority of American Catholics, Archbishop Dolan wrote a column in Catholic New York calling for 2011 to be the Year of the Mass: a diocesan effort to celebrate, promote and appreciate the divine splendor and significance of the Mass. He then called together 4 liturgical experts to implement this plan, and warned us that we were going to be hearing "a lot about the Mass from your parish priests, your deacons, catechists, and from me." Three and a half months later, we are seeing the first fruits of this endeavor: a 1970s-ish banner you can hang on your church to encourage people to go to Mass. It says, "Come to Mass in the Lord's House on the Lord's Day". The 3x6 ones are $130 and the 3x9 ones are $160. I've seen them prominently displayed outside most of the churches on Staten Island, including the ones that are on the verge of death. I hope they've all assigned extra ushers to deal with the returning hordes. Because as we know, there's nothing that changes the hearts of cynical, spiritually indifferent, fallen away Catholics like warm, fuzzy banners.

I'm glad that the banners contain a specific call to action (come to Mass), as most Catholic sermons don't even have that bare minimum. But one of the basic rules in advertising is to "sell the sizzle, not the steak". These pathetic banners don't sell the sizzle or the steak. It doesn't resort to branding strategies, by making the Mass or the Catholic faith seem at all desirable, on a subconscious level. Nor does it employ a direct response type of pitch to appeal to the conscious intellect and explain why exactly going to Mass is beneficial to you. It just contains a slogan and a none-too-inspiring picture, and expects us to fanatically obey its directive, like some Communist youth cadre. I hope they can come up with something better than this.

They should have taken a lesson from the men at NYPRIEST, who seem to know how to present an idea (and an idea that's a really tough sell, at that) in the most attractive and convincing light. See this video for a contrast in marketing techniques. Oh, I almost forgot that the NY diocese's Year of the Mass also offers web site banner ads and bulletin inserts from the USCCB. Well, I guess it's a lot easier than actually having to talk to people.

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