Motorists in Toronto complained after being confronted with a huge funeral home billboard ad instructing them to ‘text and drive’.
The giant advert – for Wathan Funeral Homes – understandably sparked outrage among angry residents who flocked to the company’s website to complain about the ‘provocative in the extreme’ billboard, reports Newser.
However, what they found was not what they were expecting. Rather than the Wathen website they they were in fact greeted with a message saying:
You probably came to this website to tell us what horrible people we are for running an ad like that.
And you’d be right. It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do. But we’re not a funeral home.
In actual fact, according to Buzzfeed, the message is a public service announcement (PSA) from ad agency John St. and billboard owner Cieslok Media.
CEO of Cieslok Media Jörg Cieslok and the Managing Director of John St. told Adweek:
[The billboard] is for the general public good. We wanted to think of a different way of saying it that would make people think about the real consequences.
The ‘Wathan Funeral website’ points out that deaths from texting and driving are actually becoming more common than those from drinking and driving – yet over half of drivers in Ontario admit to reading texts behind the wheel.
People have reacted to the stealth PSA on social media with the majority finding the billboard to be ‘clever’ but ‘morbid’:
Wow. That's dark! "Text and Drive" from Wathan Funeral Home, a Canadian PSA in disguise https://t.co/qUNZkGV3Oa
— Rebecca Lee (@rebeccaclarelee) May 16, 2016
"Text & Drive" – Billboard for Wathan Funeral Home. (clever campaign not for a funeral home) https://t.co/IL1k0SHHmc
— Brent Bushnell (@brentbushnell) May 13, 2016
Wathan Funeral Home takes a dark stand on texting and driving. I think their site makes a good argument… you? https://t.co/3sjME7iwOCAdvertisement
— Shiloh Walker (@shilohwalker) May 13, 2016
Wathan Funeral Home takes a dark stand on texting and driving. https://t.co/E813puMbn6
— Julie Payne (@julannepayne) May 13, 2016
It’s certainly one (pretty dark) way of bringing the problem to the public attention…