I’ll avoid the obvious pun, but has anyone else noticed signs that more people are interested in having fun while planning their funerals? Okay, maybe fun is overstating the trend, but instead of avoiding final planning at any cost, it appears that more people are recognizing that death is, in fact, a part of life, and you might as well make the best of it.
Case in point: two professional baseball teams featured “funeral night” at games. Who saw THAT one coming? In both instances, “funeral night” featured drawing the name of a “lucky” fan to receive an all-expenses-paid funeral. The marketing masterminds behind these promotions were undoubtedly interested in drawing attention to their baseball games rather than promote the value of funerals. The interesting thing is that scores of people entered these contests with the sincere hope of winning. The two men who won funerals seemed genuinely grateful to have won something of value.
That’s where we’ve gone wrong in funeral service. We assumed that each generation explained to the next why funerals are important. They didn’t. Most Gen Xers and younger folks will tell you they want to be put in a shoebox while their friends have a blow-out party. They don’t see any value in having a “funeral.”
Back to fun. An Australian funeral home has had great success promoting advanced cremation planning through whimsical ads and billboards showing a naked elderly man sitting on a log by a campfire. The underlying message is that no one should feel uncomfortable with final planning because it’s our opportunity to plan a memorial service that reflects your life, your personality and your character. The same funeral home continues to push boundaries by creating marketing that communicates the reward funerals can offer to the person planning his or her own funeral. I won’t say it’s putting the fun back in funerals so much as putting the celebration back in funerals.
Not a bad concept.
By Mark Allen, OGR Executive Director