Article by Julio Loredo from the Helm(original here)
Few countries have suffered as much from the consequences of the post-conciliar crisis as Brazil, where the number of Catholics has fallen by 35% in the last thirty years. A few years ago, worried about the bleeding of the faithful, the Brazilian bishops enlisted a major marketing company, ALMAP, whose president, Alex Periscinoto, had been named “best marketing manager” in Brazil.
The members of the Executive Commission of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil expected Periscinoto to advise on how to set the pastoral care of the Church, offering a better image of the institution, in order to stop the bleeding of faithful who, for the most part, are passing to evangelical communities.
The result was surprising. Periscinoto presented the results of his study before two hundred bishops and priests related to pastoral care. To say that they were shocked by the marketing expert’s speech, is little. Perhaps they expected him to recommend painting churches in bright colors, introducing more pop music, updated liturgies, and so on. Instead…
“The first marketing tool in the history of the world was the bell – periscinoto began – and it was the best. When he played, he not only reached 90% of the inhabitants, but changed their personal behavior. You then invented a tool that is still used in commercial marketing. It’s called a display. The display is something we use to emphasize, to strongly propose something to the public. When all the houses were low, you built churches with towers and bell towers six times higher. This allowed the immediate recognition of the church: here it is!
“You then invented the first logo type in history. The logo is a symbol used to make the brand easily recognizable. Yours was the best: the Cross. This logotype was always placed above the highest and most visible point of the display. No one could be wrong: that was the Catholic Church! This logo type invented by you was so effective that even Hitler used it, with a few minor modifications, to mobilize the masses. And he almost won the war.
“You also invented the promotional campaign. What is a religious procession? For a country country, or for a neighborhood of a large city, nothing is more promotional than a procession, for example, in honor of Our Lady. When we, as marketing experts, organize a promotional event, we use a lot of what the Church invented. We sport flags and banners, we clothing our representatives with special costumes to make them easily recognizable. We try to create a commercial mystique. But our mystique will never be as rich as yours.
“Unfortunately, you have changed the way Mass is celebrated. Today Mass is no longer in Latin and no longer turn their backs on the faithful. You thought you were doing something welcome. Instead, I have bad news to give you. My mother never thought the priest was turning his back on her. Instead, she thought that everyone, faithful and celebratory, looked at God. She liked Latin, even when she didn’t understand much about it. For her, Latin was a mystical language with which the ministers of the Church spoke to God. She considered herself privileged and rewarded for attending such an important ceremony on her knees. In my opinion, the change you made in the liturgy of Mass was a terrible mistake. I can be wrong. I’m not a theologian. I analyze the problem from a marketing point of view. And from that point of view, it was a disaster.
“You have removed the particular costume, the erhall, that distinguished your trade representatives, the priests. So you threw away a mark.
“You have distorted your displays, making churches increasingly similar to civil buildings.
“Everything you have invented contains an offer, something you want to sell. Your product is called Fede. But I also have good news to give you. This product, today, finds an ever-increasing demand. The market, perhaps, has never been so conducive to faith. But you talk more about politics than about Faith. Can you, therefore, complain if your churches are increasingly empty, while the halls of evangelical groups are ever fuller?”