Can You Win Playing the Creepiness Card?This article is By Dan Katz. Dan Katz is President/Creative Director of LA ads ? A Marketing Agency, in Northridge, CA, with a specialization in the Deathcare industry. LA ads is an Agent of Change. This article is in response to the article we posted last week titled “Funeral Home Tries Heart-Stopping Advertising“
Can You Win Playing the Creepiness Card?
A funeral home in northern Austria is placing hearses at dangerous crossroads with the words ?We?re always here for you.? Another funeral home in Berlin placed a large poster inside subway stations across the tracks opposite the platforms. The posters read ?Come a little closer.? Just about every December 31st, one or more funeral homes run ads encouraging inebriated partygoers to call a taxi rather than return in a hearse. And there are several cemeteries I?ve heard of that go as far as publicizing spooky special events on their grounds at Halloween.
While I?ve long been a believer in funeral advertising that is unexpected and dares to be different, I have to wonder if this macabre approach is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to attracting new business.
HBO?s brilliant series ?Six Feet Under? is wonderful entertainment, but I doubt it pushed many people to consider the advantages of pre-need planning. The public certainly loves dark humor, but is the Cryptkeeper really your best spokesman? Creepy can be funny. Creepy can be surprising. But it also has to point directly to the selling proposition.
Whenever humor is chosen as an attention-getter, the question always has to be: is it directly relevant to the selling message, or just a gimmick. One might argue that the goal of those ads I mentioned up front is just to get people talking and remembering the advertiser?s name. I?d argue that it falls short of the real goal, which is to strongly, indelibly link a meaningful benefit (not just death) to the advertiser?s brand.
Recently, I produced a commercial for a funeral home that went as far as to talk about a memorial service held in a comedy club. Unexpected, yes ? but it was to dramatize the point that a funeral doesn?t have to be ?by the book.?
In this case, it was the memorial of a guy who loved gags, funny movies and telling jokes. The humor was relevant to the message?and that?s my point! Not that we put the fun back in funeral.
Creepy for its own sale doesn?t sell, even if it does get top-of-mind awareness. The basics of marketing still apply, including the requirement of having a compelling reason why someone should consider you over your competition.
That?s the card I?ll play every time.