Roman Catholics in London start Pope Francis billboard campaign
Roman Catholic Diocese of London running billboard campaign asking people to pray
News360.com | December 4, 2014
Pope Francis is about to become a familiar face in London. As part of an experiment, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London is putting the Pope's face on city billboards and including quotes from his Twitter account.
There is also a message reminding people to pray.
"It's the first time ever we have done billboards," said Mark Adkinson, director of communications with the Diocese.
Three billboards have already gone up - one across from the Convention Centre, another at Dundas and Hale Streets, and the third on Oxford St. near Industrial Rd. Six more are planned, with three added Dec. 8 and the last three on Dec. 28. The advertisements will be displayed for four weeks.
Along with the billboards, the Diocese is including the messages on its Facebook page and website.
Putting the Pope's face on the billboards was designed to capitalize on his popularity with Catholics, Christians, and even non-believers, said Adkinson.
"Pope Francis has really taken the whole world by storm," he said. "There is constantly people saying to us, 'You guys have Pope Francis. I hear what he is saying and I get it."
Unlike other advertising campaigns that have been aimed at increasing church attendance, this one is not meant to be a hard sell, Adkinson said.
"It is just to remind people that God loves them, He is there for you, and reminding people to pray," he said.
The Diocese also hopes it will project a positive image for the church after a decade of stories about sexual abuse and parish closures.
"This is a reminder to people to be proud of their faith," Adkinson said.
If the billboard and social media campaign is successful, it could be used for other campaigns in the future. The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, Adkinson said.
"We put the message up on our Facebook page and it has basically blown our analytics (a program that tracks web traffic) through the roof," he said.
The only negative feedback has been from people who would like to have seen the billboard program rolled out across the Diocese, not just in London.