Microsoft thinks it has a good thing going with Xbox headlining Lollapalooza this summer. But McDonald's quietly scored an even more divine sponsorship coup this month, teaming up with the Roman Catholic Church in Spain to sponsor Pope John Paul II's visit there.
A highlight of the Pope's trip was a massive pray-in at a Madrid aerodrome, with tickets going for between $11 and $45 apiece. According to a report in The Guardian, believers received a backpack (dubbed the "pilgrim's bag") full of papal merchandise, including a "You Will Be My Witness" tour cap, CD, rosary and prayer book, plus vouchers for dinner (a burger, fries, soft drink and an ice cream or baked apple pie) at McDonald's.
Despite the absence of a Soccer Jesus figurine in the package, more than half a million people showed up for the event, ensuring that Catholic leaders would more than offset the estimated $1.5 million cost of the visit (profits beyond that are going to charity) and that McDonald's would have lines out the door in the evening.
The Pope and other Vatican officials speak of the dangers of globalization; Spain's RC chuch involves THE symbol of globalization in sponsorship of the papal visit. Is there a Spanish word for chutzpah?
And paying to go pray with the pope? Is this typical on papal visits? The only factor that would even come close to excusing such a thing is if parishes and other groups bought up tickets and then distributed them, but even then......