I’m not sure that advertisers needed permission to grab the images of public figures in the nineteenth century. (For that matter, public images of public figures seem to show up in ads, today. Benetton has run ads with Pope Benedict appearing to kiss the head of an Egyptian mosque, (as well as Israel’s Netanyahu kissing Palestine’s Abbas and Obama kissing Chavez of Venezuela).)
I cannot say that Bovril never got (or sought) permission to include Leo XIII’s likeness in their ads, but I would guess that they simply used it.
Catholicism is a pretty large minority religion in the UK, something like 10% of the population as I recall it. Apart from Northern Ireland, UK Protestants and Catholics got over their mutual antagonism hundreds of years ago. And the Irish thing has always been more about territory and history than religion.
Well, not really. We have a long history of antipathy and distrust of the Pope, in particular, who has for centuries been painted as an interfering foreign ruler. Heck, some towns even burn an effigy of the Pope to this day on Bonfire Night, and there is a strong sectarian divide in Glasgow as well as Northern Ireland. So from an advertiser’s point of view, the Pope is a strange choice to promote a mass market product as:
(a) it will only appeal to a small proportion of the population, and
(b) it could be a turn off for a larger proportion of the population.
The majority tend not to have a problem with Catholics, but we do have a history of having a problem with popes which certainly wouldn’t have disappeared by the time of this ad…