Saturday, April 3, 2010

Content May Be King but Context Rules

Easter is the highest of holy days in Christendom. Nobody does Easter like the Catholics (we Catholics actually, in the interest of disclosure). Easter is so important that the Feast itself actually lasts eight days and the season 50 days. And no Mass is more important than the Easter Vigil, which happens between darkness and sunrise on Holy Saturday. It’s the full-on bells-and-smells, bonfires and candles, baptism of converts, two- to three-hour infomercial with testimonials for the Lord.

It’s a ritual beautiful beyond description and an exhausting experience.

But it’s also the Church’s greatest annual opportunity to demonstrate what the whole Catholic and (in Canon) Christian brand is about.

So imagine you’re the brand manager for the Roman Catholic Church and you see this headline:

This humble off-ramp on the Information Superhighway got its name from an example I used in a lunchroom conversation in 2002. My companion that day, a fellow marketer from another company, seemed to like it so I put it into the repertoire. Later, when I heard it from another colleague who thought her source had invented it, I decided to claim at least some credit in the form of a free URL.


My point even going back to that (exquisite in those days, if you must know) lunch at Cornerstone Brands, was that what your audience believes they know about your brand or your client shapes their perception of every single piece of new information. You can try all your life to tell them what they think – what they know – isn’t true, but unless and until you replace that Dominant Narrative with a new truth, you’re screwed.

And right now, if B16 – an 82 year-old man, btw – saved a baby from a burning bus, the headline in the mainstream press likely would be Holy Father Saves Baby Amid Lingering Abuse Questions.

Live with it.

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