It's early in 2015 yet, but St. Louis Cremation has put forward a strong contender for the year's most bizarrely tasteless ad.
"Don't let the flower fool you," reads the meme-style copy on a picture of a smiling young girl. "She'll be a teenager soon." Placed right above the body-burning company's prominent branding, it has viewers wondering if the ad is urging parents to buy services for their own kids—because life is short, and everybody dies sooner or later.
Naturally, the crematorium's owner says that wasn't his intent—he only wanted to get the attention of readers.
"I was just trying to get people to stop for a second and see the picture, and then my company's name. That was it," Oliver King tells the Riverfront Times. "The two are not supposed to be related, except that's my daughter and my company."
For some inexplicable reason, not everyone understood that distinction. "I got people calling and complaining, like, 'Are you going to kill her? Is she going to kill someone?' " says King. "I couldn't believe that went somewhere in their minds that they thought that was what I was trying to say."
Even if it was an honest mistake, being clueless and nonsensical doesn't come across as the best defense. It's also not the company's only hard-to-grasp marketing to feature children and boldfaced, existential captions.
A second ad posted to Facebook features two young girls on their way to school, and a caption reading, "One day we'll tell people it was uphill both ways." A third ad, featuring a young boy looking confused (and an awful lot like the Apparently Kid), reads, "I didn't believe it either. Ask grandma if you want," in a baffling construction that might leave you wondering—ask grandma what?
In fact, the campaign—which the company has suspended—seemed designed specifically to spur all grandparents into considering plans for their own corpses. So here are some alternate captions that might better cut to that point, in the spirit of constructive criticism.
For the nascent adolescent with the flower in her hair: "She'll be a teenager soon. And you'll be dead. St. Louis Cremation."
For the schoolgirls-going-on-old-maids: "Later, they'll be old like you. Sooner, you'll be dead. St. Louis Cremation."
For the boy who doesn't know what's going on: "I can't ask grandma, because she's dead. St. Louis Cremation."
Alternately, a generous reading of the campaign might see it as offering comfort in the idea that the deceased will live on in their progeny—and that the slowly dying (because, really, who isn't?!) can spare their children and grandchildren the additional stress of finding someone to deal with their remains … by buying now!