Mount Pleasant Group puts consumers on death watch

Advertising stunt aims to get people talking about an uncomfortable topic

At first glance, it seems like yet another entry to the wearable market: the QuitBit, a watch that monitors vitals and tells a person when they’re going to die, so they can get everything in order and say goodbye to friends and family.

A little unbelievable? That’s because the QuitBit is totally made up. Ads promoting the wearable, including a two-minute spot and wild postings around Toronto, direct to QuitBit.ca – a vanity site set up by funeral services provider Mount Pleasant Group.

Launched Tuesday, the ads are part of the latest edition of Mount Pleasant Group’s annual “The Art Of Saying Goodbye” campaign. The company’s assistant vice-president of marketing, Rick Cowan, told Marketing the campaign is meant to get people talking about a subject they’re uncomfortable with: planning for death.

“This is a subject matter people don’t necessarily like to talk about, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen,” Cowan said. “With [the new campaign] we’re trying to bring it forward and get a greater number of individuals talking about it.”

Mount Pleasant Group tasked Toronto agency Union with developing a concept that was intriguing rather than mournful, as ads for funeral services tend to be. According to Cowan, the company’s research showed consumers were open to hearing about pre-planning, but respond better to ads that use humour.

“The challenge to the agency was: how do we raise awareness, but do it in a way that’s interesting and intellectually humorous, that engages individuals and draws them in,” he told. “The last thing we want to do is create messaging that’s mournful and sorrowful and down.”

For the first time, the company split this year’s campaign into two parts: the QuitBit stunt to raise awareness, and a tactical campaign focused on direct acquisition. By playing off the topical theme of wearable technology, Cowan said Mount Pleasant Group hoped to broaden its reach. While the tactical campaign targets the 50+ demographic, he said the stunt was designed to appeal to a larger group including consumers in their 40s who may be assisting their elderly parents.

The campaign’s media buy, also handled by Union, is focused on digital. The spot is running online rather than on broadcast and digital display ads are also currently in market.

Mount Pleasant Group has a history of outside the box campaigns including an exhibition of work that showed how artists wanted to be remembered after death, and a series of short films that showcased the meaningful moments in the lives of elderly subjects.

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