Pontifical Product Placement

Michael McCarthy notes Pope Francis’ ride of choice is a $16,000 Ford compact:

The Pope advised new priests and nuns to travel in more “humble” vehicles rather than driving fast, late model cars. To prove his point, Pope Francis is driving a low-priced Focus around Vatican City, according to news reports.

Scott Monty, Ford’s global head of social media, said via e-mail that the former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina appears to be using a “second-generation” Focus instead of a new model.

For Pope Francis, it’s yet another contrast with predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who had a custom-made electric vehicle donated by Renault and a BMW X5 given to him as a gift by the German auto maker.

Gary Stibel, chief executive officer the New England Consulting Group, sees synergies:

“This is a smart car for a smarter Pope,” said Mr. Stibel. “It’s a simple, real car for a real humble Pope. Clearly Ford does benefit from this because he’s chosen their car.”

Francis put it differently:

“It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car; you can’t do this,” he said. “A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”