Coffins delivered to your doorstep: effective viral campaign or bad taste?

Update: the culprit behind the coffin deliveries have been outed. He is none other than Sumardy Ma, one of the members of the Octovate Group who started a new company Buzz&Co late last year. He also has a company called mavens Co but it is not clear how it fits into this picture. The coffins were apparently a gimmick to help him launch his book: Rest In Peace Advertising: The Word of Mouth Advertising. 

Sumardy describes himself as a “pioneer of word of mouth marketing” in his Twitter bio. A bit of a stretch here. To be a pioneer of word of mouth marketing Sumardy must have been pioneering it even before he was in his mother’s womb as the concept has been around for years.

From the various press reports quoting Sumardy he seems unrepentant about the stunt, invoking creativity and bravery as an excuse to do something different and daring. He told the Jakarta Globe that this was part of “his company’s effort to revitalize the marketing industry. He said contemporary ads and marketing strategies are getting duller by the day.”

Puhlese. There is something called making a virtue out of necessity. There is creativity and then there is creative stupidity. If you don’t worry about the consequences you could always get lots of cheap publicity. All you need to do is, say, flash your little Weenie in front of SBY and you have all the publicity you’d want (except for the certainty of getting a reaction from the President. 

So let’s call this for what it is: an insensitive, stupid and cheap stab at publicity. Why anyone would want to hire Sumardy and his cohorts for a marketing effort after this?


Dozens of small coffins, measuring about a meter in length, were delivered to all over Jakarta today to unwitting recipients. Unspun was one of the recipients. Others included those in the media and, as far as can be ascertained, people in marketing or with some profile in social media.

Unspun’s coffin was delivered by an ambulance to his office. The person delivering it said that there would be an event on June 9th. The coffin was painted brown with the words RIP above. Below it was my name and address. Inside were some flower petals and a rose, with a label attached that read on one side: “You are number: #4444” (complaint: how come @danrem got the sexy #69 while I’m confined to the deathly fours?) and the other, “”

Go to the website and you see a “under construction sign”. The senders have also been active on Twitter with the handle @restinpeacesoon. They sent Unspun a message “Death is the surest calculation that can be made”. Go to the Twitter account and you get an idea of who have been the recipients. Here’s a selection:

So what is one to make of these coffins? It seems, so far, that it is some sick person’s idea of a viral campaign.

That it has got the whole town, at least in the Indonesian Twiterverse talking, is beyond doubt. In that sense it is an effective viral campaign. There is certainly buzz.

But there is something also called negative buzz. Whomever is behind this, if it s viral marketing campaign, is being irresponsible to the max.

Death is a fact of life but socially many of us see this as something to be avoided, to the extent that some people would get very disturbed by it. This being so, you wonder if those behind this campaign have thought through the implications, legal and moral, of sending coffins to the chattering classes.

The coffin has been used by gangsters and malicious people to send a warning message, a threat of death to their recipients. What if someone, having a heart condition, suffers an attack after receiving it? What if another person claims they suffered trauma after receiving it? What if, as Unspun hears some will do, someone files a police report?  And they sue whomever is behind this campaign for lots of money?

And, if it is a viral campaign, and the brand or product behind it is eventually revealed , what do you think would be the reaction? Do we all pat them on the back and say “well done!” it was a very clever campaign that got the town talking. Or do we say,” what a Sick Fuck you are. I’ll never buy or use you product as long as you live (and when you die, I’ll never send you a coffin)?”

Unspun knows what course of action he’ll take. What’s yours?

Finally, what if it is not a viral campaign? Now, that would make life interesting, wouldn’t it?

Can’t credit the people behind for managing fear though if this is the case. Fear works best when there is uncertainty. It’s like the horror and murder movies. The bad guy is more frightening when you don’t see him and can’t figure him out. The moment his identity is outed, no matter how hideous he may look, the fear is dissipated.

So if its an intimidation attempt the idea of using @restinpeacesoon on Twitter to interact with recipients and commentators is a bad idea indeed.

So fail in marketing, fail in intimidation, whichever the case. Bunch of losers.

20 thoughts on “Coffins delivered to your doorstep: effective viral campaign or bad taste?

Add yours

  1. It reminds me to the history of Ku Klux Klan, and I couldn’t imagine the horror caused by it. Some of us might just laugh and guess which company is having the campaign, but I agree with you Ong, most of us will see it as something disturbing. No matter how certain Death is, nobody would like to have The Reaper knocking on the door.

    The campaign has the town talking about it, yes. But I wonder whether the initiator has completely gone mad or simply… Dumb.


  2. Exploitation of a climate of fear and terror. How low can you go?!

    “Disgusting” is the mildest qualification I can think of. “Terrifying” would also be appropriate.

    The bastards should be prosecuted. Therefore filing charges against ‘persons unknown’ is the least one can do.


  3. The persons behind this campaign can be :
    – sales force of a funeral service company, or
    – cemetery management company, or
    – gangsters trying to get protection money, or
    – politicians trying to divert public attention from
    whatever bad things they are facing today.


  4. Terlepas akhirnya pandangan orang positif atau negatif atas campaign ini, menurut gw bro Sumarketer bener2 all out menunjukkan eksistensinya sebagai spesialisasi WOMM…Mungkin kasus ini seperti kisah sukses Kratingdaeng/Red Bull dinegara tetangga sono, konon waktu launching, marketer Red Bull dengan amat brilliant memenuhi semua tempat sampah dikota dengan botol bekas Red Bull… Semua penduduk kota heboh dengan kejadian ini… Positifnya, orang orang yang positif melihat hal ini sebagai sesuatu yang baru, berarti Red Bull minuman luarbiasa yang diminum oleh semua penduduk kota. Sang negatif melihat bahwa hal ini hanya sia sia, bahkan mengotori kota dengan sampah… Hasilnya Booommm penjualan Red Bull meledak dinegara itu sampai sekarang.Demikian juga dengan peti mati om sum, sebagian melihat kreatifitas n konsistensi om sum sebagai marketer WOMM yang brilliant, out of d box dan total dalam berkarya.Sebagian melihat sebagai hal yang tabu, najis, dan memuakkan.Sebagian marah, jengkel dan teraniaya akan hal ini, bahkan ada yang bilang bahwa gw juga akan marah menerima kiriman peti mati dipagi hari, mungkin saat ini gw cuman bisa tertawa karena belum pernah ngerasain dikirimi paket peti mati.Bukankah happy is our decision? Pagi hari bangun tidur pun kita sudah dihadapkan dengan pilihan : Happy or Stress? Mana yang akan anda pilih hari ini? Ingat pilihan anda menetukan nasib anda hari ini :pSo back to the topic, terlepas kontroversi dari kasus ini, saya pribadi sangat kagum akan ide dan kreatifitas om sumarketer dalam launching bukunya RIP Advertising.Meskipun saya pribadi menganggap mengirimi seseorg/institusi peti mati merupakan hal yang kurang berkenan bagi budaya Indonesia. Lebih etis jika saya pajang peti mati sbg campaign buku saya di perempatan jalan/ pusat keramaian sehingga menimbulkan Buzz juga :DBut, WOMM semakin dikenal hari ini berkat kreatifitas om sumarketer.
    Bravo orang-orang kreatif!
    Tetep maju walau ada pro dan kontra!
    Doing things are a choice, as well as your reaction towards it.
    It shows who u really are…


  5. @womanation: Just like Unspun said in his post: PUHLESE! Spreading ideas by word of mouth has been around for a very very long time. Just Google the keywords “Paul Revere” and “word of mouth”. The only difference between now and then is that the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media have given marketing-through-word-of-mouth more avenues to work with. Mr. Sumardy offers nothing new. If anything, his lack of empathy is appalling. He’s just looking for that “creative hit” without regard to the broader impacts.


  6. @sopjagung memang ini bukan konsep baru. Makanya saya kasi contoh Red Bull yang udh muncul dr taun kapan. Tp sumardy yg memperkenalkan pertama kali di Indonesia dgn campaignnya yg berani, yakni si petimati. Puhlese, @sopjagung.. Apakah itu bad atau good, everybody’s talking about it! Puhlese..! Even bro unspun khusus bikin blog untuk pak sumardy! Terlepas dr bad or good, IT’s WORD OF MOUTH! Smua org membicarakan. Sampe emak bapak yg ga ngerti marketing ngomongin. Di toko Buku Gramedia, bukunya udh dicari2.
    Soal dia memilih campaign petimati, itu urusan dia. Org boleh pro dan kontra. Tp kl org g suka, mending diem. G nulis blog apalagi ngetweet. Krn dgn dia ngomong, dia smakin mendukung word-of-mouth sumardy. Bad or good. Tau word of mouth? Smua org ngomongin. Efek viral. Smua org pgn tau. Apa ini? Promo apa? Org jd tau sumardy, org jd tau bukunya. Dan di gramedia demand udh ada sebelum supply. Puhlese, @supjagung…
    Kita jgn melihat dr kacamata kita sndr. Kl liat objektif dia, dia sukses. Kl liat dr etika, jelas g masuk. Tp objektif dia bukan : membuat word of mouth yg beretika, bukan good word of mouth. Just word of mouth.
    As I said before, kl mmg g suka, ya g usah diomongin. Pak sumardy jg sudah bebas, dipulangkan polisi jam 11 mlm. G ada yg nuntut kecuali satpam OTG.
    Hehehehe. Puhlese, @sopjagung.. Tenangkan diri and liat objektifnya, marketing bukan judgement. Tp analisa.


  7. Menurut saya, word of mouth atau apapun praktek bisnis yang dilakukan, tetap harus berlandaskan etika. Tujuan tidak menghalalkan cara.

    Argumentasi “kalau nggak suka ya nggak usah diomongin” agak sulit diterima. Lha justru karena nggak suka, ya makanya diomongin.

    Mentang-mentang semua orang ngomongin tindakan dia, apa lantas Sumardy jadi benar dan dianggap sukses? Cuma karena followersnya banyak, pendukungnya banyak, lantas dia jadi benar? Ada sesuatu yang salah di sini.

    Sumardy tanpa diundang mengirimkan peti mati ke orang-orang yang sama sekali nggak minta. Lalu orang-orang itu kalau nggak suka harus diam-diam aja? Demi ‘menjunjung tinggi kreativitas word of mouth dan marketing’ harus tutup mulut dan maklum saja?

    Salah satu peti mati itu dikirimkan ke kantor saya, ditujukan ke seorang ibu. Peti mati itu ukurannya kecil, ukuran anak-anak. Bayangkan rasanya, pagi-pagi masuk kantor dan dapat kiriman itu?

    Mungkin dunia saya berbeda dengan dunia Sumardy dan para pendukungnya.Di dunia saya masih ada etika dan sopan santun.

    Tujuan tidak menghalalkan cara. Pintar tanpa selera sama dengan sia-sia.

    Word of mouth, yes. Bad word of mouth? Thank you very much. Me and Sumardy, we obviously live in two very different worlds.


  8. Makanya saya blg, pak. Liat objektifnya. Saya bilang dia sukses dr segi objektif dia, bukan objektif orglaen.
    Ini yg mmg dicari. Memperkenalkan word-of-mouth. Dgn contoh yg tak biasa.
    Pro kontra biasa. Melaporkan juga boleh kl merasa tersinggung. Stiap masalah ada beberapa sisi. Tergantung gmn cara melihatnya.
    Boss saya jg dikirim 2 peti mati. Mrk jg punya anak2kecil. Tp krn boss saya melihat dr sisi berbeda, mrk memilih mengembalikan peti mati dgn baik2, dan stlh itu kembali melanjutkan hidup. Tidak lantas memasukkan ke hati. Membicarakan etika. Masih banyak hal besar yg harus dikerjakan dan dipikirkan.
    Peti mati adalah lambang kematian, apakah itu melukai perasaan seseorang, tergantung gmn org itu menyikapi.
    Coba smua org yg terima petimati langsung mengembalikan, lalu melanjutkan hidup. Ya sumardy g akan ada yg membicarakan. Word of mouth dia gagal.
    Toh peti mati itu bukan bom. Tdk menjatuhkan korban luka atau meninggal.
    Bagaimana kita memberikan aksi ke org tergantung reaksi kita trhadap aks
    i org itu.
    Saya tdk menilai pendapat Anda jelek lho. Tp Anda jg tdk bisa memberikan sebuah judgement hanya based on pandangan Anda.
    Sekali lg, dia tidak membicarakan etika bukan berarti dia tidak beretika. Tergantung dr sisi mana kita melihat sebuah mslh dan bagaimana kita bereaksi. And tujuan stiap org tdk bisa disamaratakan.
    Bapak apakah mendapat kiriman petimati secara langsung?


  9. Well.. Bad name atau bukan, kita liat bbrp saat lg. Saya yakin ada turning point.
    Smua inovasi yg akhirnya kepake, slalu berawal dr hinaan dan celaan.
    Stay open minded. Kita liat aja siapa yg trtawa belakangan..
    Setuju? Setujuuuuuu….


  10. hmm lucu juga 😀 tapi emank benar sih anda ingin suatu kampanye buzz terdengar dengan 2 cara, carilah hal kreatif yang nyambung tanpa melukai perasaan orang walau mungkin ornag bertanya2 (plus etika tentunya) atau dengan cara lari keliling telanjang di istana negara .. 😀

    semuanya merupakan komitmen yang tinggi dengan berbagai macam penilaian objective tersendiri (selain dari objective untuk tersebar tercapai). kalau saya melihat peti mati tidak mencapai objective utamanya selain mengirimkkan isu negative 😀 karena disni anda bicara WOM dan di WOM publik lah yang berbicara dan menghakimin anda. keputusan publik mengatakan BUZZ & CO terlalu “kreatif” akibatnya sang aktor musti masuk ke jeruji besi yang dingin 😀

    dan kenyataannya konteksnya amat berbeda dengan BUZZ milik kratingdaeng yang legendaris dan mencapai hasil. ada konsep yang kuat disertai RESEARCH budaya dan insight yang mendalam dalam melaksanakan suatu kampanye BUZZ karena kita berbicara suatu komunitas yang memiliki cara berpikir dan budaya unik sehingga pelaksana BUZZ minimal produk atau dirinya tidak sampai terbicarakan pengaruh negative selain rasa penasaran yang positif dan rasa ingin tahu yang mendalam atau kekaguman.
    kradingdaeng amat berhasil memikat dengan cara yang benar2 insight dan diterima luas.

    BUZZ & CO juga berhasil membuat kesemuanya itu tetapi mereka lupa satu dasar suatu advertising yang berhasil yaitu .. biarkan brand berbicara sesuai dengan diri masyarakat, bukan berbicara sesuai dengan diri sendiri. alias idealis adalah bahasa yang anda mengerti sendiri bukan suatu komunitas yang mengerti. bagaimana BUZZ & CO bisa dimengerti tujuannya kalau mereka sendiri tidak mengerti konsumen nya ? bagaimana mereka bisa melakukan kampanye kalau mereka tidak mengerti budaya masyarkat indonesia terhadap peti mati ?
    jadi wajar saya bilang BUZZ & CO lupa untuk mengenal komunitas yang akan dia kirim peti matinya selain terlalu banyak berbicara tentang dirinya sendiri 😀


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