Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11

We Didn’t Burn THE Pope. We Burned *A* Pope.

OR: “This is why you don’t explain art”
August 16, 2023

Editor’s Note: We’re experimenting with the format of The Senses. Let us know what you think!

Pictured: a social media campaign for The Multiplayer Brand, a zine by Future Commerce.

To set the record straight: we didn’t burn the Pope.

We commissioned an artist* to burn a page out of our new zine, The Multiplayer Brand. That page happened to contain an AI-generated likeness of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.

But why?

We lay out the reasoning in our most recent podcast — that media moments are critical for building engagement with your brand’s customers. And those customers are hungrier than ever to participate in discourse.

Here’s the Multiplayer Brand pipeline: 

  • “The Moment”
  • Discourse
  • Critique
  • Participation

The moment began with the passing of Sinead O’Connor, a longtime critic of the Catholic Church. Her act of critique on SNL in 1992 — tearing a picture of Pope John Paul II — led to a broad discourse

During his opening monologue the subsequent week on SNL, host Joe Pesci presented a mended photo as an apology gesture to the viewers. “I taped it back together,” he declared. He then proceeded to rip a picture of O'Connor, which was met with roaring applause.

Balenciaga has had its share of critique in recent years. The brand was vilified for its November 2022 campaign featuring sexualized images of children’s toys in bondage wear. 

“The Balenciaga Pope” is a Midjourney creation from Reddit user u/trippy_art_special. It  continues the tradition of art leveling critique against the Catholic church; this time by putting His Holiness in Balenciaga.

It requires internet literacy, media literacy, and critical thinking to understand art. It takes multiplayer participation to build on top of that art. This is the key insight of The Multiplayer Brand.

You can get your copy for $20 + free shipping right over here

— Phillip

* Photo credit: Gabby Perez, Emagen Photography

P.S. This year’s VISIONS: Volume IV lays this out in excruciating detail (3.5 hours of panel talks, and a collaborative whiteboard experience that will impress your boss and elate your foresight team, by the way). Trade your email’s soul for access to the report, and claim the ideas as your own.

P.P.S. Did you know that there are strong parallels between the disruptive motions of the fast fashion industry and modern SaaS businesses? Writer Alex Griefeld breaks it down for us on this week’s Insiders by Future Commerce.

CNET deletes old articles to improve Google search performance. McDonald's removes 'ESG' from website amid backlash. LG releases unique TV in a suitcase. Cable and broadcast TV viewing declines. Women's spending power boosts success for movies and artists.

Matchmaking services experience resurgence in dating app era.

Need fiber? Nestlé recalls cookie dough containing wood pieces. L’Eggo to a post-brunch DUI: Eggo releases Waffles & Syrup Cream Liqueur.

Secrid is a wallet brand that focuses on transparent production for sustainability. MikMak acquires assets from rival ChannelAdvisor. German grocer Aldi expands in Southeast by acquiring Winn-Dixie; making us wonder if this will spawn a sequel to the 2005 movie Because of Winn-Dixie. Because of Aldi doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. We look forward to the canine-centric “Because of Grocery Chains” Cinematic Universe.

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