Sunday, May 06, 2007
Demise of the KISS Kasket
The specially customised casket (or coffin, to us Brits) which the heavy rock band Kiss launched for fans in 2001 went off the market last year. I thought the whole idea was odd after reading an advert for pre-need funeral plans in a TV guide earlier.
The original casket was the typical American style funeral product, but fully decorated with a laminated image of the band members in their usual stage make-up, the Kiss logo and a photo of the crowd at a concert. It was launched by Gene Simmons as an addition to the usual band merchandise, doubling up as a beer cooler during the fan's lifetime, before needed for burial, and retailing for £2,850 ($4,000).
Maybe it seemed a 'cool' (not in the refrigerated sense!!) sort of fan merchandise product, for a band known for their over-the-top stage costumes and theatrical live performances, frequently featuring pyrotechnics, fire-breathing and blood-spitting.
As a business venture, it initially seems to be an ill-informed novelty. Selling coffins to the living is not generally aimed at the young, who (one would hope) have a decent life span ahead of them. It usually falls within the category of pre-need funeral plans, usually targeted at the 50 to 80 age group. The idea is to pay in advance for your own funeral costs while you're alive, including a coffin, to alleviate the perceived financial worry for your family at not being able to afford funeral costs when you finally die. It's a bit like the burial societies during the Victorian period, intended to help working class people avoid the stigma of a pauper funeral, and keep up with the expected funerary etiquette, by paying up in advance. Perhaps it's more popular today in the US as part of the funeral industry, but not terribly successful here, as far as I know.
Even though the Kiss casket was marketed as fan merchandise and given a 'useful' second function by doubling up as a rather large refrigerator, surely it can't have been expected to sell many? It's still trying to get someone young(ish...how old are Kiss fans these days??) to plan for their own death. The wrong demographics, I would think... unless you think it would make a very nice ornament or piece of furniture to enhance your home! As it's no longer available from the Kiss website, does that mean that even to the most debauched sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roller, a burial casket is going just a little bit too far?
Still, it made the news and fitted in with the Kiss image, so even a novelty product achieves something, even if it's just a little more notoriety...