o death, where is thy sting?

Michael Pinto won’t win a Gold Lion anytime soon, but he does have a way with words.

Pinto, an undertaker in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay), enjoys stirring things up with his none-too-sacred advertising signs (known in India as “hoardings”). His current off-color offering: “When you drop dead, drop in.”

“I knew the board would become famous; it’s such a catchy line,” he told a bemused Times of India.

Pinto’s been at it for years, working on the assumption that even gruesome and bleak businesses can benefit from lively marketing.

His first sign, which he put up soon after opening his shop on Mumbai’s Mahim Road in the 1980s, read, “We can send your dead body anywhere, anyhow, anytime.” A reassuring thought, certainly, and one he fleshed out with more specifics in his next ad: “We send dead bodies by air, by road, by train.”

Pinto likes to evolve his message, though, and seems to have taken a shine to more targeted marketing. The admonishment on an upcoming ad: “Hey smoker, you’re the next guy in the coffin.”

Pinto’s antics have brought him a certain notoriety in Mumbai; he is even being compared to Nana Chudasama, a local celebrity and former sheriff who is well-known for the slogans about national events that he mounts on his office building on Marine Drive.

“Nana uses a political angle; I use it for business,” Pinto says. “I started more than 10 years ago. When did Nana Chudasama start?”