Last Page - Pontiff Proclaims 2011 "Year of the Hooligan"

The Unholy Grail

VATICAN CITY- The powerhouse brands we respect so very deeply don't just happen by accident. They're the carefully crafted hell-spawn of global ad campaigns designed to bore like hungry brain weevils into the human psyche. So every time you pass a McDonald's and feel yourself being inexorably drawn toward it, you can thank Ronald McDonald for having his evil-clown way with you as a child. Don't feel guilty: You were young and thought clowns meant well. Happy Meal, indeed!

So any global brand that hopes to go big has to play ball. That's most likely the thinking behind a new effort by the Vatican to kick things up a notch. Sure, 900 years ago the Vatican was the crib of some serious players, but today, with brand awareness barely better than that of the Popiel Pocket Fisherman, it's time for the world's smallest country to tap into a younger demographic-and not in the way some headlines might lead you to believe.

Never one to back down from a challenge-Crusades, anyone?-the Vatican is getting up in the grille of other religions and even global coffee companies. Not only are the Pope's personal security forces now astride glistening new Ducati Multistradas in Popetastic yellow-and-white livery, but the sacred Vatican grounds have recently served as the staging area for the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour. Fresh. Very fresh, indeed! As this is written, rumor has it the Sistine Chapel is being measured for the installation of a dynamometer for what a leaked press release calls "a Dyno-Fight horsepower smack-down of Biblical proportions!" Well, they probably oughta know.