The Archbishop of York suggests couples be given tax incentives to marry. A leaked memorandum suggests that this is not all that's planned
Your Grace,

As we predicted, your suggestion that the Government should provide tax incentives for marriage has generated much useful press coverage. It paves the way for us to launch further "incentives" proposals.

During my short sabbatical from the diocese, I have, as you requested, been investigating in confidence further marketing and promotions "drives" that we might encourage. I have a number of potentially exciting suggestions to report:

Attendance vouchers: our churches become packed with "fair weather" worshippers for the major festivals but are often sparsely filled during the rest of the year. We might follow the example of football clubs, where supporters who watch matches throughout the season have priority in applying for tickets if the club reaches the Cup Final. I believe that we could reward regular attendance in a similar fashion: thus only those with a full sheaf of vouchers from services throughout the year would be eligible to attend Christmas and Easter "specials".

Lottery tickets: Your Grace will be aware of the lottery fever that has gripped the nation. In addition to the National Lottery, a number of "scratch cards" are distributed by reputable institutions such as charities. I propose that we produce a "fishes and loaves" scratch card which we would insert as a marker in each hymn book. If the numbers revealed by scratching match the hymns on that day's order of service, the winner will receive a small percentage of the collection plate.

Choirboys: A number of parishes complain about the difficulty of attracting choirboys and girls We have long paid our choirboys pocket money sums and extra for weddings, but clearly young people demand more excitement these days. I am assured by my god-daughter that what they want above all is a mobile telephone. Since these have become remarkably affordable, I feel sure that we could arrange for our senior choristers to be given a certain amount of "air time".

Brand extensions: This is a marketing term that, as I understand it, means capitalising on our distinctive "products" and promoting them in new spheres. The film Four Weddings and a Funeral is a fine example of this, and must have done much to promote our services. We could go further. I have been in contact with a number of bottled water companies about a "two-way" deal for the baptism service. Sponsorship by a popular fizzy water brand could make baptism what advertising men like to call "sexy"; in return, the company would win the right to trade on its association with us.

But this is only intended to be a "discussion document", and I'm running away with myself! I share entirely your concerns about "product placement", by the way. The recent appearance of a vicar on the television show Blind Date was not an unqualified success and we have much to learn about this field.

I await further instructions, and can meet you in the south transept at your convenience.

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