By Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pope Francis has popped up in Narberth. And he’s hot.

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With less than two months until Francis touches down in Philadelphia, inspiration of all sorts is abounding.

People want to be near him, and they want to make a little money inside the halo of his celebrity.

“Great brands inspire entrepreneurship,” says branding expert Caroline Kennedy of the Karma Agency in Philadelphia. “They’re often market makers.”

It’s that “Papal market” that got Debby Fireman’s creative fires burning. She thought why not “toast the Pope” literally?

Fireman has spent years in client marketing through her agency, Fireworks.  She discovered a company in Vermont that manufacturers novelty toasters, with metal inserts that allow images to burn into the toasted bread.

Thus, Toast the Pope was born. Francis’ face with an added plate that reads, Spread the Love is now online for purchase.

“We were thinking about ideas that could honor his visit,” says Fireman.  “”Because his message is spread the love… I thought “spread the love” on one plate and while the other is the Pope’s face, would be fun.”

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For branding expert Kennedy, it’s an authentic brand like Pope Francis meeting opportunity.

“His brand is a brand of optimism and in a time like our when the world is starved for great leaders. He stands for ideas that need authority and advocacy and that’s a really good place for authors and book publishers to associate.”

In Philadelphia’s Barnes and Noble, Pope Francis is the on the cover of at least a dozen books. You can find his life story, his inspired messages of faith, his style of leadership. They’re all being marketed now, days from his arrival in the United States.

Before stopping in Philadelphia, Francis will make history as the first Pope to speak to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill. But who will stand next to him and will his Papal stature rub off?

“I think the Pope is an interesting one for politicians,” says Kennedy. “He is so unscripted and completely authentic to what he believes in and that’s not generally how politics works. He won’t be corralled into a political agenda. It will also be interesting to see who feels they can align with someone who is known for breaking ranks with centuries of Catholic tradition.”

In Philadelphia, you can see the Pope’s image unfurled in welcome at the Carpenters’ Union building on Spring Garden Street or bobbling in numerous souvenir store windows. And now, if you want to celebrate his arrival with a “toast”… Debby Fireman has just want you’re looking for.


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