|Chapter 1:||The Da Vinci Code Controversy|
The Roman Catholic Church, initially in Italy, broke the silence against the “shameful and unfounded lies” of the work, and conclaves of church leaders met to decry Dan Brown and to design a public relations strategy with which to manage the situation (BBC News, 2005; Associated Press, 2006b). It is argued that some elements of public relations crisis management were deployed but that—over the longer run—these Christian groups engaged in a broader program of impression management, or a communications framework that they hoped would contain and mold how the public interpreted aspects of Da Vinci so that they should do the least damage to the interests of stakeholders. The prime stakeholder, given the nature of Da Vinci’s supposed sacrilege, would be the Roman Catholic Church.
Much of this Church-inspired impression management communication occurred by way of the World Wide Web.4 The present study analyzes some of these messages from key constituencies in an effort to better understand the dynamics involved. How is the “crisis” of tens of millions of consumer exposures to blasphemy, with its potential to erode faith, to be handled?
But there are indications that Da Vinci has cut both ways (Morris, 2006). Though the spectacle of nuns dragging huge wooden crosses back-and-forth outside movie theatres on opening night captures media interest, it also provokes cultural introspection. One should consider the adage “any publicity is good publicity” to appreciate that Dan Brown has turned a spotlight on an integral question for our age: