Papal paraphernalia proffered

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This month's papal visit to the U.S. created a celestial opportunity for marketers seeking to profit from the blessed event.

As Pope John Paul II made appearances in several northeastern cities last week, official papal products--from baseball caps to golf shirts and coffee mugs--were being sold throughout Newark, N.J., New York and Baltimore.

For products sold in Maryland, local artist Jim Robinson designed a pontifical logo to be used on all the official merchandise manufactured by HBI Graphics.

At 32 locations along the Baltimore parade route, there were 15,000 caps, 40,000 T-shirts, 5,000 sweatshirts, 20,000 lapel pins and other assorted items being hawked.

Elizabeth Ganzi, director of operations for the pope's visit and president of Ganzi Productions, Washington, said all profits from product sales would be used to pay for the visit. "We got a lot of things for free, but we also had to pay for a lot of things. It cost $150,000 just to rent Camden Yards.

Ms. Ganzi professed "no idea of how much money we will make from these products, but they are selling very well."

In New York, similar official papal products were manufactured by Robbi Promotional Advertising. Besides papal T-shirts and mugs, Robbi's products included commemorative rosary beads, church calendars, cassettes and CDs of the pope saying the rosary.

In addition to selling products at Giants stadium and in Central Park, the company set up 13 souvenir carts in malls throughout New Jersey before the pope's arrival at Newark International Airport on Oct. 4. Robbi also sold merchandise near St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., where the Holy Father addressed faculty and students.

There is still no clue as to whether any marketer or retailer might benefit from the pope's personal taste, as K-Swiss did during Pope John Paul II's 1993 trip to Denver. There he wore a pair of K-Swiss Classics, bought during the trip at an Athlete's Foot store. Shortly thereafter, the company and retailer teamed up for a national promotion, including in-store posters.

Copyright October 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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