The Metro railway system in Washington DC was the setting for a brief advertising campaign featuring Pope Benedict XVI in April. The ad, shown on the Metro’s web site, featured a Metro passenger chanting in Latin (with English subtitles) to a 20 cm high Bobblehead version of the Pope, talking about the benefits of using public transport when attending the papal mass at the Nationals Stadium on April 17. Only problem was – the Pope was inappropriately dressed.
“Is the Popemobile in storage?” he sings. The Pope Bobblehead nods. “Thank Heaven for the Metro.”
The Pope can’t stop nodding. Magazines shown include Car and Pontiff, Catholic Herald, and the Washington Post Business section. A voiceover encourages commuters to avoid the unholy traffic by buying a smart pass. Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube
Officials of the Washington Roman Catholic archdiocese called for the ad to be pulled when they saw that the Pope was portrayed not only as a bobblehead, but dressed in the wrong colours. The bobblehead was wearing a cardinal’s red zucchetto skull cap and a red cape. The Holy Father wears only white caps and white capes.
“This is the Holy Father. This is a leader of a faith of a billion people founded by Christ and he’s going to lead us in a sacred Mass. It’s a religious moment,” Susan Gibbs, spokesperson for the archdiocese of Washington, told journalists. “Our concern is that this was a bad bobblehead,” said Gibbs. “You had unauthorised merchandise, and you had a misdressed pope.”
Metro media relations director Lisa Farbstein, who came up with the idea, told the press, “We did not intend to offend. We were really trying to encourage people to purchase the one-day pass.” Farbstein told reporters she bought the bobblehead on the eBay Web site for US$16.99.
I wonder if this is an idea that could pop up again in Sydney for the World Youth Day later this year?