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 CNS Story:

FOLEY-ADVERTISING Jun-25-2007 (500 words) xxxi

'Chocoholic' archbishop talks to Nestle execs about advertising

By Catholic News Service

NICE, France (CNS) -- U.S. Archbishop John P. Foley stood before an audience of executives of the Nestle corporation and confessed to being a "chocoholic."

The archbishop, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, also confessed to being an admirer of well-done advertising campaigns, particularly those with a catchy jingle.

However, the Philadelphia-born prelate did make a plug for Nestle's Pennsylvania-based competitor by pointing out that Milton Hershey "never advertised his products; he thought that their high quality and low price were sufficient advertisement, and he pulled it off for decades."

The archbishop's June 22 presentation to the Nestle executives in Nice focused on the power and pitfalls of modern advertising campaigns.

"Because you're really trying to get people's attention, advertising is among the best communication being done in the world today," he said.

"I am a fan of advertising, even though I'm not much of a consumer," he told them, not entering into details about his chocolate habit.

Archbishop Foley told the executives that when his council decided to write its 1997 document on ethics in advertising, the text had to pass muster with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as do all Vatican documents touching on faith or morals.

At the time, the congregation was led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Foley said the congregation "objected to our beginning with the benefits of advertising. They thought we should begin with the general moral principles which apply to advertising."

The archbishop said he met with Cardinal Ratzinger and explained that he thought people who work in advertising might read the document if it began with a recognition of the legitimate good advertising can accomplish: informing consumers or voters, promoting competition and lower prices and creating jobs.

"Cardinal Ratzinger replied, 'You're right; keep it as it is,'" the archbishop told the Nestle executives.

Archbishop Foley also told the executives that advertising can cause great harm when it gives the impression that "having is more important than being."

The archbishop did not ignore the "public relations disaster" Nestle faced over its marketing of baby formula in poor countries.

"Women in the developing world thought -- or were perhaps persuaded by advertising and peer pressure to think -- that breast-feeding was not enough for their children," he said. So they used formula, mixing it with water than often was unclean, and babies got sick and many died.

The archbishop told the executives he thinks Nestle's reputation still suffers because of the formula crisis.

He asked Nestle executives to commit themselves to excluding all advertising that would make people feel bad or unworthy if they cannot afford to buy a certain product.

"Emphasize quality, emphasize efficiency, emphasize even better grooming and cleanliness and good appearance -- but please do not suggest that a possession is going to make one person better than another," he said.


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