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Is the pope a hip geek or advertising pawn?


HONG KONG (SE): While it may be good to chalk up a few firsts in life, especially if you are pope, the new twitter account opened by Pope Benedict XVI, @Pontifex, has already raised the question whether the pope is really a hip geek or a pawn of the electronics industry.

To be up with the latest is a challenge to all world leaders and even Archbishop Rowan Williams, until recently archbishop of Canterbury, quipped that he had been trumped by the pope on this one.

However, not only pope’s can have a first. Claire Diaz-Ortiz has also achieved one, as at the age of 30 she has become the first person to sign up a pope for a twitter account.

The founder of a charity for orphaned children in Africa, Diaz-Ortiz has been working with the Vatican on communications for several months.

She told the Wired website that his account has a bit of a different slant from most celebrities, as he is not so worried about personal branding, but more on the content of his messages. So Diaz-Ortiz said she put a lot of work in to protecting his persona in the manner in which his account is presented and operated.

Diaz-Ortiz said that she got the idea by noticing that biblical quotations were really doing well on twitter and she thought that for the pope, it was a natural step up from YouTube.

While the tweets have attracted over two million responses in the first week of operation, not everyone is impressed, with one Filipino migrant worker saying she believes it more a way for bored westerners to amuse themselves than growing in faith.

Be that as it may, Pope Benedict is certainly under pressure to be hip, but his tweeting also does the industry no harm either.

In the United States of America advertising companies have cashed in on accounts like @Pontiflex, just one letter different, and report booming business.

It was also reported that since the pope started tweeting on December 12, 75 to 80 new twitter accounts have been opened each hour by one startup provider based in Brooklyn.

No doubt it is impossible for Pope Benedict to be a first in anything without someone making hay out of it.


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