Gift Wrap: Universal drops Pope’s first album

Targeting the Hispanic, Italian and French-Canadian communities, Universal Music Canada is partnering with TLN, Radio-Canada, and print media across Canada to promote the Alma Mater album, which features the voice of Pope Benedict XVI.

This is the first time in Thom McKercher’s 25 years of working in the music business that he’s witnessed a Pope’s direct involvement on a music album.

Dropping today in Canada, Music from the Vatican: Alma Mater will be promoted with an extensive media campaign that aims to reach more than five million people for the holiday season, said McKercher, director classics and jazz, at Universal Music Canada.

Universal’s main media partnership is with TLN, which will air commercials throughout the holiday season and an exclusive making-of documentary on Nov. 26. ‘They speak in many languages – you can use that as a metaphor or figuratively. We thought TLN was perfect for this project because as you know the Pope speaks five languages on this,’ McKercher told MiC. TLN reaches about six million homes, targeting the Hispanic and Italian communities.

The album needed a little more ‘oomph’ in Quebec, so Universal bought airtime on Radio-Canada, says McKercher. Meanwhile print ads will be running in the Globe and Mail and in Catholic newspapers across the country through to December, and a radio ad will air on Classical 96.3 FM in Toronto. All media and marketing was handled internally by McKercher and marketing manager Antonella Padula.

The target demographic on the album is adults 40-plus who would buy the album as a gift for their parents or extended family members. ‘Although they won’t be the ones actually listening to it, we’re hoping they hop onto it as a gift idea,’ says McKercher.

Alma Mater features the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome, eight contemporary pieces by notable composers (of various faiths), and Pope Benedict XVI’s chants and spoken word in German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese and French. ‘This actually has His Holiness…singing and chanting, so that makes it really unique,’ said McKercher.