Faith in Advertising
I am not a religious person but it seems many of us in Ireland still are. Pope Francis is on his way for two days in late August and the furore surrounding it has taken me by surprise.
I did not think ‘we’ cared. I did not think the majority of Irish people still cared about the Catholic Church after everything - you know, everything! It seems I am mistaken.
This visit is significant in that it is the first papal visit in 40 years. As a woman from the West of Ireland, I realise that Knock will be inundated with those eager to see his Holiness, I just did not expect the same level of interest to be found in Phoenix Park in Dublin.
The Pope is still a relevant presence as a brand unto himself. He has 17.8m Twitter followers and 5.6m on Instagram. People are interested in this brand and it seems that interest has not waned over the last few decades in Ireland.
In this age of consumerism, I thought we had a new religion in brands such as Brennans, Tayto and Lidl but we still have a need for something to believe in. There are many alternatives to a ‘God’ these days or avenues where people have found spiritual meaning, whether it be in sports, astrology or music.
Faith and advertising go hand-in-hand. As advertisers, we are asking the consumer to believe in this product, this service, this moment. We try to empathise, educate, guide the consumer just as the Pope tries to communicate with his followers.
As we have seen from the work displayed at Cannes Lions 2018, advertisers are increasingly using advertising for good, whether it be to highlight social issues such as homelessness, child abuse, marriage equality or to help change the lives of ALS sufferers. Advertisers are using their platforms to make significant changes to our world by empathising with social/medical issues but also finding opportunities to change and improve lives.
I think Pope Francis would be proud of the people behind these campaigns, after all, as it states in Titus 2:7, 'In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness'.
Advertising can be vacuous and silly but there is a surge of work that is helping our world and not patronising it.
In one way, advertisers have a responsibility to their client, to collaborate and to create great work to the client's specifications. However, advertisers also have a responsibility to the world at large, to promote, to inspire change, to educate and improve lives of the consumer.
I think we have more faith in advertising in our world today. In Ireland, we have voiced our opinions loud and proud in the most recent referendum in our country ‘Repeal the 8th’. This was a contentious issue that provoked and inspired many advertising campaigns throughout the island. Advertising is a way to bring society together, to highlight social injustices and to be a voice for those who do not have one.
The Pope will arrive to these shores in a few weeks and people will be out in their droves. I respect those who still have faith in this man and The Catholic Church but I also respect those who still have faith in advertising. Seeing campaigns receive millions of online likes and shares prove that.
Whatever you believe in, it is clear that faith in all its forms is still alive!
Alice McLoughlin is executive personal assistant to Rory Hamilton at Boys and Girls