Transport organization Transport for London (TfL) bends an ad series of the English company Beyond, fearing that it would be too shocking. However, the advertising messages from the price comparison of funerals have already released a lot on social media. “We want to break the taboo to talk about death,” the company reports. In one of the advertising posters a young couple is laughing in the sea. The picture is a clear parody of the average advertisement for a last-minute girl. Instead of surfboards, however, the woman and man have the cover plate of a coffin fixed. ‘Low costs, no hassle, cremation’, the letter is blocking. And: ‘All inclusive, roasting temperatures, leaving everywhere.’ On another poster you can see how a young woman is in a store. She talks to a store employee. There are fashion dolls with beautiful dresses in the shop window. A friend is with us. Everything indicates that the young woman will soon get married and looking for a beautiful wedding dress. ‘For that perfect look on your big day’, according to the advertisement. But in the middle of the store is a pink coffin.
The advertising messages should initially appear in the London underground, but that did not happen. Public transport company TfL banned advertising for fear that it would “seriously and widespreadly offend.” TfL did this after consulting the organization that supports communication. “All advertisements must comply with our and national conditions that apply to advertising”, according to the transport organization. TfL’s partner started with Beyond – a company that compares funeral expenses – to adjust the poster series and remove the sharp edges, so that it could be shown in public transport.
‘Break through the taboo’
That happened, but Beyond still displays the ads in the city and posted the original posters on social media. In addition, the company devoted a blog post to the issue a little more than a week ago. The ad series is deliberately risky, explains Beyond. The company says the taboo around wanting to break through funerals with humor. “We get rid of the emperor’s clothes. We turn the volume knob to ten, hoping it will make it easier for everyone to go at least to five and say, “Here we can talk about death.”
‘Costs get out of hand’
The reactions to the posters on social media vary from ‘shocking’, ‘tasteless’ and ‘despicable’, to ‘brilliant’ and ‘fantastic’. “Our reluctance to talk about death is why funeral expenses get out of hand and why you pay too much to draw up a will or distribute assets,” said co-founder Ian Strang in a comment. According to the New York Times, an index for 2017 shows that cremations in England cost on average more than 3500 euros and funerals over 4500 euros. That is too much, says Strang. “We want to change this.” And that requires openness. He openly questions TfL’s decision. “TfL is not the referee in moral issues. They have ads about taking out loans, gambling … Is a little humor about death worse than such products?”