I stumbled upon these ads a while back. Despite I always appreciate when organization wants to become more contemporary, these resulted only to maximum embarrathy. It feels a little bit like your father attending spring break and attempting to do Gangnam style in 2014.
I have to admit that I am not probably the best prospect for this campaign. I believe that religions in general have product problem instead of image problem. However I think John Hegarty was on to something when he stated that Roman Catholic Church is the most powerful brand in the world:
Firstly Catholic Church does not sell physical product, it sells a belief. The great brands have evolved beyond the product; Nike & Apple are almost more way of life for their loyalists than just a simple product. They have one of the most well known logos in the world (the cross), a clear mission statement (ten commandments) and own brand book (the bible). Like McDonald´s and Starbucks later on, Church recognized the importance of location. Churches are usually in the center of the city and they used to be the tallest buildings as well (before financial institutions, the religion of our age). It was also a forerunner in branded content, collaborating with the best artists of the world (Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc.). Unlike many other brands, it has also been successful in brand extension and expanded to schools, charities and health care.
Although apparently it was not Catholic Church doing these ads, the brand is the same. For every brand there is a thin line between being too stubborn to change and being too weak to change too much.
If you work with the most powerful brand in the world, would you do ads like these?