The Final Nail In The Coffin

It sounds like a scene from Six Feet Under. Mourners gather for funeral. Gravestone appears normal. Close-up reveals video game logo and image of cartoon character—a “heavily armed, 240-pound bad-ass.” David tenses up. Nate freaks out. Family looks embarrassed.

Fiction? Perhaps. But Acclaim Enter tain ment recently had plans to make it fact—floating the idea of advertising a horror-themed game, Shadow Man: 2econd Coming, on headstones in the U.K. The com pany said the controversial placement would tie in nicely with the game’s plot—”an undead demon-hunter on a twisted voodoo journey through the darkest recesses of the soul”—and show Acclaim as something of a creative daredevil.

Acclaim’s PR director in the U.K., Simon Smith-Wright, says reaction to the company’s so-called “deadver tising” concept was mixed. “I would say it was 50/50,” he says. “We did get massive support from some people, including a couple of vicars, which was surprising.”

Acclaim was said to be recruiting families of the newly deceased, offering to defray burial costs in exchange for space on their loved ones’ stones. But Smith-Wright says the whole things is off, since the company was unable to bypass “specific laws of the Church of England” forbidding such indignities. “It looks like the project has died a death of its own, to coin a tasteless phrase. It’s dead in the water.”

Actually, it was dead from the start. Alan Lewis, Acclaim’s U.S. PR guy, confirms it was all a hoax and was never meant to happen. “But we are interested in out-of-the-box thinking,” he insists. “No pun intended.”