27th June 2021
30th August 2012 - Farcical fresco restoration a PR masterpiece
When a hilarious news story about a Spanish pensioner’s botched repair to a 19th century church fresco made international headlines, virtually everyone in the public relations community knew exactly what to expect in the following few days.
Last week, TV and newspaper correspondents from around the world descended on the small town of Borja in the Aragon region of northern Spain to report on the most appalling attempt at an artwork restoration ever seen.
And now it has emerged, exactly as PR professionals predicted, that the town has become a new novelty mecca for tourists wanting to see first-hand the unspeakable mess that a well-intentioned local worshipper has made to the now infamous work of art.
The depiction of Christ at the Santuario de Misericordia de Borja Church, 40 miles northwest of Zaragoza, was beginning to show significant signs of ageing when 80-year-old church worker Cecilia Jimenez decided to take it upon herself to restore the artwork to its former glory.
But her amateur endeavours left churchgoers horrified, as her DIY reconstruction looked more like a monkey’s face than a detailed image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns.
Following extensive media coverage of the story, the restoration botch job quickly went viral with many people posting their own copycat reconstructions of famous artistic masterpieces to online social networks.
In view of the sudden massive influx of visitors to the town, it is perhaps unsurprising that many people in the PR profession believe that there is more to the story than simply an innocent mistake by a little old lady.
But whether the ham-fisted handiwork was a staged PR stunt or not, the town of Borja would be well advised to milk the publicity to maximum business benefit and postpone any further and somewhat more professional remedial work for some considerable time to come.
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