Selling Death With Sex Appeal

by M-Gillies

Statues of partially and even fully nude women and men are common place in many cemeteries around the world which makes one wonder why there is such an uproar over the casket calendars.

There’s a beautiful grotesque quality in the way Italian coffin-makers Cofani Funebri are advertising their products these days. The juxtaposition of Eros and Thanatos (sex and death) have a frightening ability to go hand-in-hand ever so flawlessly. Where one gives life, the other takes it away, and while both have been shrouded in a label of taboo, Cofani Funebri looks to change that.

Since 2003, when the first casket calendar was printed, Cofani Funebri has seen considerable amounts of interest in their macabre portraits of caskets and the models who pose with them. From stirring controversy inside the country of Italy to inspiring Lindner, the largest producer of caskets in Poland, Cofani Funebri’s casket calendars attracts critics of all sorts.

However, Maurizio Matteucci, of Cofani Funebri says, that despite the negative reactions some people may give the calendar, people from around the world are placing orders.

Championing the success of the calendar to society’s evolving view of death, Matteucci said, “We were searching for an innovative way to show our product, and I thought the best way to do so was to make it provocative; showing the coffin near scantily dressed models was a means of advertising.”

Much like how car manufacturers may show proactive models poised next to their product, this form of advertising isn’t far from placing sex appeal onto something most people would not consider purchasing right away.

And while Matteucci said the mixture of sex and death makes the calendars unique, reports throughout various blogs and forums have stated that the Italian government has placed a censorship over the calendar for offending the public. Matteucci himself says that a censorship over the calendars seems fatuous as there were no usages of religious symbols in the photographs.

“(It might be considered controversial) because for the first time a coffin factory has tried to show the casket and advertise it with a beautiful model near the product,” Matteucci said.

Despite the controversy that has arisen around the calendar, Matteucci feels that the popularity for the calendars stems from the evolving views people have when it comes to death.

“People that are into gothic and dark art movements love the calendar,” he said. “(It could be) because for the first time, people inside the funeral industry have their own calendar.”

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