Campaign of the Week

26 September 2023

Co-op encourages open conversations about funeral arrangements 

Co-op Funeralcare ad shows friends having frank and fun conversations about their final send-offs

To encourage more people in the UK to talk about their funeral wishes, Co-op Funeralcare launched a campaign that shows real people having conversations about what kind of funeral they’d like to have.

Talking Now Helps Your Loved Ones Later cuts between groups of people from all around the country having everyday conversations about their funeral plans. For example, a window cleaner in Manchester who wants one big party, and a hiker with a hearing disability signing that she wants her poem to be read.

The campaign was created with Lucky Generals, London, and the ad was directed by Charlotte Regan at Knucklehead. It was filmed in areas such as Cardiff, Port Talbot, London, Manchester, and Keswick in the Lake District with street casting of people across the UK. The agency worked with The Diversity Standards Collective to ensure that the cast was representative of and authentic to minority communities across the UK. The TVC launched in September 2023, across cinemas, social, in-store and digital advertising. 

​​​​​​​Results / According to the agency, on the day of the campaign launch, the brand had a reach of 1.45 million on social vs 1,480 the day before.

Contagious Insight 

Share the load / Mandip Mann, head of marketing and client experience at Co-op Funeralcare, told us, ‘The challenge for us was to encourage people to be open to these types of discussions around death and funerals, as they remain very unspoken.’ In 2020, the brand uncovered that only 9% of those aged 50 and over have a funeral plan in place and 74% of UK adults say recent events have not encouraged them to discuss their later life wishes with their loved ones. With over 150 years of experience, Co-op uses this campaign to remind people that if they need to organise a funeral plan, they should do it with Co-op Funeralcare.

Mann added, ‘By showing that ‘talking now helps your loved ones later’, we’re helping people realise that having a conversation earlier in life makes it an easier chat to have.’  The ad shows that the brand understands people’s anxieties around funeral planning and that it wants to make the process a little bit less painful.

Be real / During our interview about Tena’s No Love Like It campaign, Anna Covell, AMV BBDO client partner for Essity, spoke to us about the importance of research and doing your homework if you want to create authentic campaigns that speak to people. Here, Co-op successfully captures real-life and relatable feelings around funeral plans by working with the right people. Anne Cotte, senior strategist at Lucky Generals, told Contagious, ‘We also worked very closely with the Diversity Standards Collective. We really wanted to make sure we were authentic and not tokenistic in our representation of different communities. For instance, we didn’t want people with disabilities to be misrepresented or senior people to be portrayed as if they’re not enjoying life anymore when they truly engage in many traditionally seen as youthful activities like dancing and playing with friends.’ She added, ‘Their input guided us in making sure that we were including a range of communities, some of which are often unrepresented in advertising.’ By showcasing real people having everyday conversations about their funeral plans, it takes a heavy topic and makes it heart-warming, using realism to strike the right tone that neatly promotes Co-op Funeralcare as approachable, friendly and understanding – key for a business that deals with such a sensitive topic.

Old dog, new tricks / This campaign also reaffirms Co-op Funeralcare’s relevance and sensitivity during a time when the funeral industry is experiencing rising costs and declining demand. According to the Financial Times, profits at Co-op Funeralcare were down almost a third in the first half of 2022, while its competitor Dignity made a pre-tax loss of £156m ($195m). This is due to the funeral industry’s rising prices because of increasing energy costs, as well as the hit it took during the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost a fifth of funerals were ‘unattended funerals’ during the pandemic (no hearse, procession or funeral service) and cost less than £1,000 ($1,250), compared with £3,700 ($4,600) on average for a cremation. Younger, newer brands are also cropping up to shake up the funeral sector. For example, funeral home Sparrow in the US, which launched in November 2021, aims to provide more uplifting final farewells at below-average prices, to shift people’s perceptions of death. Here, Co-op Funeralcare is telling people that they should plan their funerals with them because it is sympathetic to the universal difficulty of having these conversations with loved ones. Mann told us, ‘We want people to realise that Co-op Funeralcare is moving the conversation around death, funeral wishes and grief forward, but also that we understand the diverse ways people across the country want to honour life.  We want to make sure that people’s personal wishes are respected.’

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