Here's the best ad for a cemetery you'll see this week

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The client had a little money set aside to try something provocative. The result? The Quitbit.

Death and burial are hardly dream subjects for a copywriter.  How to advertise a funeral home without resorting to soft-focus clichés or thoroughly bumming out your audience? And what are the odds your ad will ever be seen outside the confines of daytime game shows and FOX news anyway?

Union, a small MDC Partners-backed creative shop in Toronto, has come up with a novel approach.  A new campaign for Mount Pleasant Group Cemeteries and Funeral Centres focuses on the Quitbit, a wristband (obviously inspired by the Fitbit) that counts down the remaining hours of its wearer’s life. A two-minute film — part comedy, part creepfest — explains the device in somber tones.

"Quitbit takes your lifestyle habits into account when calculating your remaining days," says a woman in a lab coat strolling through a dark, silver lab. "And when your time is almost up, Quitbit will send you a notification alerting you that it is time to start planning your final goodbye."

The idea, of course, is that no such device exists, so better start planning before it’s too late.

The video lives on a section of the client’s Web site dedicated to the campaign. The thinly masked joke is revealed when viewers click the "pre-order’ button. "Quitbit isn’t real, but that shouldn’t stop you from having a plan in place before it’s needed," says the copy. Viewers are redirected to the Mount Pleasant Group’s home page.

The video came about after the client told Union it "had a small budget set aside for something that would reframe the idea of pre-planning," said Glen D’Souza, associate creative director at Union, "something a little more provocative that might reach a wider audience online." (Mount Pleasant’s primary campaign, "The Art of Saying Goodbye," is a bit more typical of the industry, focusing on documentaries of people talking about leaving behind their legacy.)

As for targeting the near-death crowd online, D’Souza said it increasingly makes sense.  Mount Pleasant "traditionally targets people 55-plus, and they’re finding that more and more of them are online," D’Souza said. "But casting a wider net, getting the general population thinking about pre-planning, I think that’s what their goal is."


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