Lessons from the race for the red shoes.

By Luke Sklar

We hope you read our colleague Sarah’s blog on Pope Benedict retiring (Love Your Job? Or not…) but now this saga moves into full tilt drama.

I do confess that every headline that starts with “Cardinals gather…” makes my brain jump to St Louis and those multiple World Series triumphs but I digress.

Speaking of confession, can we all not learn from the non-aggressive yet aggressive tactics used in selecting the new Pontiff?

When your brand has an announcement how would you like to have multi-sensory rituals like the bells ringing, marching into the Sistine Chapel, chanting the Litany of Saints, and wait for it, the oath of secrecy?  Enough drama?

Well it’s extended because the new Pope is almost never picked on the first vote of the Conclave.  John Paul ll took two days, Benedict took two days and this time around there are not even any front runners (anybody rooting for Canada’s Marc Oullet?  We could have blog posting Nirvana over this). Each vote is followed by a black smoke signal (no decision made) or a white signal (there is a new Pope)… and bells will ring again to signal that one lucky Cardinal has to quickly choose a new name.

So how do they choose among these 115 candidates?

Nobody knows. Just read the pundits grasping at straws for criteria.  (This makes China’s choice of Xi Jinping as president look transparent!).  We did hear that one key factor is not IF, but HOW the Cardinals pray.  Does their method have enough leadership potential?  Do they sway and murmur to inspire?

You can bet there is visceral jockeying going on and yet there is absolutely no evidence. Isn’t that the ultimate in marketing?  Persuasively positioning your brand without looking like you are trying.  Let’s all diagnose the final choice and parse his recipe for success.

We would be remiss if we didn’t express our wishes for the new Pope and the storied Catholic Brand. Please hold a mirror up and tackle the issues that you know must be tackled…the abuse by clergy, vague finances and how about next time… a female Pope!