7 Billboards You’ll (probably) Never See. Day Three: Keeping Secrets
When I first conceived the slogan I wasn’t immediately sure exactly what to do with it. I liked the sound of it, how it looked on the billboard with the image, but wasn’t too clear to whom such a phrase might best be attributed. At first I thought of the National Security Agency, given all the hoopla of recent years over their accumulation of personal information via cell phone and email activity. That falls apart, though, for anyone who is aware of the Edward Snowden situation, or any one of a dozen or so other leaks that have occurred within the CIA over the past decade. While maybe the NSA is supposed to be very good at keeping secrets, they don’t exactly have the best public record on the subject.
I then thought of attributing it to some neighborhood gossip club, given their penchant for gathering, or perhaps in some cases creating, secrets for everyone who lives around them. Just the very idea of a neighborhood gossip club posting a billboard made me chuckle, especially when the image in my mind is that of Mrs. Kravitz, the neighborhood busy-body from the 1960s television sitcom, Bewitched. That one dissolves even faster than the NSA, though, because a gossip club would exist not merely to gather secrets but also to share them. If they’re not telling secrets then there’s very little point in the club existing in the first place. So, no neighborhood gossip club.
Ah, but those dear Catholic priests, now they know how to keep a secret! They’re even immune from prosecution because the confession is sacred. While, in theory, physicians, legal counsel, and some therapists have similar protections, no one takes keeping secrets more seriously than does the Church and no one does a better making sure no one else listens. That’s right, the confession booth is still one place the NSA hasn’t stuck its extensive nose and no one gets to hang around with their ear to the door, either.
Confession, like the Church in general, is in decline. Many people who say they are Catholics are not seeing the point in going through the whole process. I’m guessing they are thinking that as long as they’re not killing anyone or running around with someone else’s spouse that they’re really not bad people and therefore don’t need to confess all the little things such as stealing money from their child’s piggy bank to tip the pizza guy or routinely flipping people off as they cut through traffic. Confession could use a good ad campaign and I’m thinking this could be a good place to start.
I’m half-tempted to, and may yet, turn this slogan into a print ad where we can add a little more to it and make it a little funnier. When I first thought of it, I had the phrase, “Unlike the CIA” tacked to the front of it, but nixed it because a) it made the copy too long, and b) was a bit too topical for those not immediately familiar with the litany of leaks the CIA has had over the years. I also thought of adding the parenthetical phrase, “(Not Just Victoria’s)” to the end. A print ad would give us the necessary space without having to worry about copy overrun.
We all know the Catholic Church is far too prudish to actually run with a campaign that is as provocative as this one. Still, it is a delightfully irreverent idea that would probably be more effective than Church leaders might anticipate. Perhaps they should give it a whirl.