Good Morning, You’re Gonna Die

Do I have your attention? … Did I also kind of tick you off? The question is, when it comes to your marketing, is the one worth the other? I don’t think my ride to work is a good time to talk about death. Yet there death was, splayed across two ads on my train in yesterday.

Do I have your attention? … Did I also kind of tick you off?

The question is: Is the one worth the other?

This is a rude headline, no doubt, and I’m sorry for that. It’s not the kind of thing you want to see first thing in the morning, but at least we all know this is a place to talk about marketing (today, the death is just a side effect).

I don’t think my train ride to work is a good time to talk about death. It’s a long commute, I’m usually proofing our e-newsletter, answering emails, thinking about what we have to do that day and/or zoning out to music.

Yet there death was, splayed across two ads on my train to work yesterday:

Haven life isurance asteroid death ad
Haven Life’s idea of polite morning conversation. The other ad told you how many people died on your birthday. (Spoiler alert: A lot!)

This is Haven Life, and its campaign to get you talking about death and life insurance. It’s supposed to be a conversation starter, and it was: I turned to the woman in the seat next to me and said, “Well, I’m not buying insurance from those guys!”

Chewed Out
“Whoever’s responsible should be fired immediately!”

Tactics vs. Tact
Every marketer needs to break through the noise to get their ads read and remembered. Most of us have, at one time or another, crossed the line trying to do that. (Like when we called all of our subscribers “Cheap Bastards” in a subject line …)

In fact, Haven was created by insurance giant MassMutual specifically to break through to people who don’t think they need life insurance: Millennials. They’ve launched several campaigns designed to make it “easier for people to talk about death,” including branding September “Life Insurance Awareness Month.”

I respect the bold plan to get young people who are starting families to talk about death and responsibility. But this had the wrong impact on me.

I don’t want to talk about death on the train (a ride which, by the way, takes me through this curve twice a day). That goes for planes and automobiles, too. … unless I’m listening to Chris Rock (NSFW):

So that’s my way of thinking about this. What’s yours? Is this a successful advertisement (it did get me to do some Googling about Haven and write a few hundred words), or do you agree with me that it’s out of place on the morning commute?