Why Pope Francis Is the Tech World’s Hottest New Marketing Tool

(Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)
(Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

Spotify is the latest company to capitalize on the popularity of the people’s Pope.

Over the last several years, Spotify has catapulted itself to the top of the music-streaming heap bycornering the market on millennials who do not feel the need to own anything—CDs, cars, homes—but entitled to share whatever they want. Now, hungry to turn its popularity into profit, Spotify is trying to reel in a slightly older audience, and it is using the technology industry’s secret weapon—Pope Francis—in order to do so.

In a new ad campaign kicking off Monday, Spotify features a group of nuns rocking out in a church, tied to the Pontiff’s artist page on the service, which features his own pop-rock album, Wake Up!. The record is a collection of hymns and a selection of lines from his speeches in Italian, Spanish, English, and Portuguese. Spotify is launching two other ads—one with the song from the favorite 80s film Never Ending Story, and another with a couple moving to Canada to capitalize on the popularity of playlists devoted to moving, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The marketing blitz, Spotify’s first foray into television ads in three years, is its latest effort to appeal to a greater, and older, share of the market. Spotify, valued at a whopping $8.5 billion, is at the top of its class in terms of audience, with more than 75 million active users and 30 million paying subscribers. The industry it leads is blazing, too: streaming services dominated the music industry in2015, increasing their share of sales to nearly 35 percent, according to The New York Times. But Spotify also faces worrisome trends as it seeks to expand. Like other youth-oriented technology companies, its towering valuation is built atop a demographically limited user base. The company’s chief marketing officer, Seth Farbman, told The Journal that it’s focused on attracting customers in their late 30s and early 40s, a group slightly older than millennials who are digitally adept enough to easily transition to the service. The Pope ad campaign, he said, is a good way of letting them know “what they’ve been missing out on.”

Spotify is hardly the first tech company leaning into the ubiquitous popularity of Pope Francis—a progressive Pontiff who appeals to selfie-loving millennials and older generations alike. Earlier this month, the Pope posted his first photo on Instagram, an image of people in prayer, captioned with the words “Pray for me” in nine different languages. Francis tweeted that he was “beginning a new journey” on Instagram, “to walk with you along the way of God’s mercy and tenderness.” He passed 1 million followers in less than 12 hours (this was a record-breaking feat; it took the previous record holder, David Beckham, 24 hours to reach that number). He has since posted 17 photos, and his follower count has grown to 2.1 million.

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SOURCE: Vanity Fair
Emily Jane Fox

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