The ROI of the Sistine Chapel

I found this tongue and cheek video on YouTube suggesting that the reason Michangelo was commissioned by the Catholic Church to paint the Sistine chapel was to drive revenue and increase traffic to the church.   While it is amusing to append modern marketing-speak and powerpoint graphics to the point of almost sacriledge, it does make us draw some modern parallels to modern day churches. 

The video suggests that because of the art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, people were staying longer in the church, praying more and giving more.  And this helped expand the Catholic Church to be ahead of it’s competition in the day. 

Perhaps that was true. 

While we will likely never see another work of art like what was painted on the ceiling of the chapel, let’s fast forward a few hundred years.  As marketers – especially those of us who specialize in branding – we too are trying to paint a masterpiece inside our churches.  Our canvas, however, is not layered with paint but with experience. 

We use music, messaging and community to create an experience that draws people in, captivates their hearts and motivates them to become better Christians. 

So what does our ROI look like?

Less empty seats.  More community groups.  More engagement.  New faces.  And a growing church. 

So while this video is amusing, the point is right on.  We must always keep focus on the total experience inside our four walls and make sure it connects with people so they stay longer, pray more and give more.


Dick’s Sporting Goods Commits A Technical Foul – Theft

We’re all familiar with those point program that retailers employ so they can make you buy more stuff you don’t really need.

Here is how it usually works:

When you are checking out of a store, the cashier asks you if you want to join their Rewards program.  It is free and the more you buy, the more you save.  They will keep track of everything that you purchase and then send you a check at a certain time.  Most of the time, the check is in the form of an in-store coupon.  The obvious theory is that you will come back into the store – sooner than later – to redeem your cash and, hopefully, buy more than the face value of the check.   This is the best scenario because you purchase more things from them, spend additional money (add-on sales) and help them with their inventory turnover.  If the retailer is really smart, they will double the face value on stuff they really want to move.

The second best scenario for them is that you don’t come into the store and the liability that they had in the form of the margin-reducing check expires.

When it comes to sending the “best customers” who are on the rewards program Best Buy, for example will send you a check when you ask for it after your accumulated points reach a certain threshhold  – say $10.  You receive a check / coupon with an expiration date to get you into the store.  The points that are not used for that check are saved in your account until you buy more stuff and accumulate points to get you to the next level.

This set-up is good.  The retailer gives you a reason to come back and the points that were not used are saved.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, however, has decided to create a program that puts the advantage on them and forces you to lose your points – the point you earned by spending money with them. 

What they do is this:

You accumulate points on their Score Card Rewards Program.  Then, they will send you a check, just like Best Buy, when you pass a certain threshhold.  In my case, they sent me a $30 check with an expiration date of 2/26/11.  So I have roughly 40 days to come in and use the certificate or lose the value.  No problem.

But where their program takes a turn is they also include a buckslip telling me that any point balance under 300 will be “reset to zero” in just 10 days from the day I received their note.  (see below for image)


Now here is where Dick’s plays dirty.

Along with this fancy buckslip, they provide me with a statement showing my points.  It shows my points before the $30 redemption (which, by the way, was at their doing, not mine. Unlike Best Buy, I don’t have control over when my points turn into dollars).  It then shows my balance which just coincidentally is now under the 300 point threshold.

So now, I have 10 days to get into their store and buy something that will put my points back over the magical 300 mark so I don’t lose my points.  And by the way, the purchase I would make using my $30 redemption check will NOT accrue me new points.

Do you think it is a coincidence that my remaining balance is now 155?  A balance of 155 means that I feel I have accrued too much to let expire.  That also means that I have to buy something a little more expensive than an impluse item in order to get my points over the 300 mark.

And about the expiration dates?  My check expires in 40 days and my points expire in 10.  What do they want me to do?  They want me to come into the store within 10 days to buy something knowing full well that as long as I am there, I will feel the need to buy something with my $30 redemption check.

So this little point game will end up costing me a lot more than I want to and sooner.

The bottom line is that Dick’s has taken the control away from the customer.  They decide when to send the customer their check, they decide when the customer has to come into the store and they force the customer to use the points they earned or lose them.

That, my friends, is stealing from your customer.

Too big for words? Starbucks loses their name.

Nike did it.  Pepsi did it.  Now Starbucks is about to do it. 

They are dropping their name from their coffee cups this spring.   The official word from Starbucks is that is was just time to update the 40 year old Siren who has emblazened the coffee giant’s stores, coffee cups and products across the globe.   

starbucks new logo

starbucks new logo

I enjoyed reading the comments from overthinking logo designers and graphics gurus about the symbolism of the move.  Some say that the black line around the old logo kept it all together. 

Others say that the new logo will help carry the brand into the future and it positively expresses the essenence of their global domination (huh?). 

What is clear is that this move will evoke an endless spew of twitter posts, blog comments and online voting that will engage people and get them to talk about the brand.  But it in the end, this little logo change will amount to nothing.  The change made to the Starbucks logo is not bold enough to evoke public outrage like what happened in 2009 when Tropicana changed the look of their orange juice container.

tropicana logo change

tropicana logo change

If you recall, the public sentiment towards Tropicana was so great that Tropicana backtracked and quickly poured their millions worth of design hours, consultant fees and production re-tools and went back to the old packaging.

With Starbucks, however, the logo change was safe.  Easy.  Like sitting in one of their chairs listening to the barista repeat a 17 word coffee order.

And while one can argue whether the Starbucks logo needed a refresh or that the move is brand suicide (I liked that comment the best), I believe that the change is a simple statement saying that Starbucks has made it to the highest level of brand aptitude and now joins ranks with Nike, Pepsi and Apple who are instantly known by only their logo – without the use of a single vowel or consonant.

Are Catholics Really Coming Home?

This past holiday season, you probably saw the Catholics Come Home ads on TV.  If not, you can see the ads on their website

Catholics Come Home

Catholics Come Home

The general idea of the website and ad campaign is that the Catholic church knows that people are leaving the ranks of their church at an alarming rate.   Some people have left because of the recent and ongoing publicity about sexual misconduct from within the church walls, while others left for lessor reasons ranging from the disconnection they feel to the church “not getting it”. 

Whatever the specific reason people may have, people are leaving. 

While many are leaving for other traditional religions, like Lutheran and Protestant many are leaving the traditional altogether and heading for the local, non-denominational, bible-based and mega churches.  These churches are finding great success with their contemporary combination of part Christian rock concert and part in-depth bible-study.  Many of these churches have sprung up literally in the shadows of the Catholic churches. 

And that is why the Catholic church has been turning to television as a way to invite those who have left back to the Catholic church. 

So, if you are one who has left the Catholic church, are you motivated to give the church another try because of these ads?  Do you think these ads have helped or hurt the Catholic church?

Let us know.