Marketing death through erotic art
DOI link for Marketing death through erotic art
Marketing death through erotic art book
This chapter will explore the recent phenomenon of erotic coffin calendar art produced to advertise funeral caskets manufactured by the Italian company Cofani Funebri since 2003, and the Polish company Lindner since 2010. The calendars of both companies were developed especially for promotion purposes and typically feature a company coffin and a scantily-dressed young woman in a sexually suggestive pose. The use of erotically posed young women is not unusual in advertising terms, and frequently such tactics are used to make goods attractive to hetero-normative men. Adverts for expensive cars, tobacco, designer clothing and aftershave typically intimate that the men who purchase the products will increase their sex appeal (Reichert and Lambert, 2003). However, the coffin calendars as a form of marketing do not seem to conform to the ‘sex sells’ marketing ploy; few people purchase their coffin before death, and even fewer would find this purchase increases their sexual appeal, plus one is simply never sexy when dead. Thus, the question arises as to where calendars sit in terms of contemporary consumer culture. In exploring this issue this chapter examines the juxtaposition in these calendars of a symbol of death (a coffin) with a symbol of fecund life (a young woman erotically presented) through the notion of iconicity. Messaris has described iconicity as a form of ‘persuasive communication’ that stems from the emotional response elicited by presented images (1997, pp. viii-xv). Two time periods and genres of representation will be considered in relation to iconicity and the use of death to ‘sell’ a message. The first time period of this chapter explores the artistic background to, and iconicity of, the coffin calendar photographs through proto-and earlyReformation artworks produced in the Death and the Maiden genre (1495-1550). It will highlight how the iconicity of these Early Modern artworks was used to emphasize concerns over mortality during a time of religious change in Europe (from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism), and then compare and contrast this with current concerns over mortality during the present period of religious change in Europe (from a period of Christian domination in public life to increased institutional secularization from the late twentieth century onwards).