Advertising In The Funeral Sector: A Tricky Business
Advertising In The Funeral Sector
Getting the tone of an advertisement right is always a difficult task. But when it comes to marketing funerals, some companies can more often than not get it wrong. In recent months, a number of national companies have come under fire for their perceived “lack of empathy” towards dealing with bereavement and funerals.
Transport for London banned several funeral advertisements around the city at the end of July this year, citing ‘offensive’ material on some unconventional advertising, which included people running with coffins rather than surfboards in warm locations, comparing it to the process of cremation. Beyond, the national funeral company behind the controversial adverts were reported to government agencies who suggested that the campaign was likely to cause widespread offence. Many funeral directors have spoken out about their concerns for clients seeing these adverts in their day to day travel, which could cause upset and did not demonstrate a great emotional intelligence towards those suffering from a recent bereavement.
Though the co-founder of the company defended the adverts as ‘edgy’ and a new way to view death, TFL believed that its responsibility for the kinds of advertising used around London transport outweighed the usage of such marketing campaigns. But of course, Beyond is not alone in its difficulties with addressing the tone of such a difficult topic.
Co-Op’s Funeral Care & Life Planning Services have called for greater regulation of the funeral services market from the government, stating that the current ‘voluntary’ regulations have caused prices to soar, companies to experiment with aggressive sales techniques and ultimately, to distance themselves from the empathy required with such a difficult topic such as death. The group asked for the current review by the Competition and Markets Authority to be extended to explore just how funeral services should conduct themselves when competing for clients and exercising their market power.
Funeral plans have been growing in popularity, particularly due to the rising costs of funeral services. The Managing Director of the Co-op noted that companies need to take a greater stake in their customers, who are often investing large sums of money into the cost of a loved one’s funeral. But, with campaigns like Beyond continuing to pop up around the UK, time can only tell if these calls for government-level change will come to fruition.