Posted by Richard Rawlinson at his eye-watering best
The multiple windows of Harrods, and the eye-watering budget for the displays in these windows, are a far cry from your average undertaker’s window onto the high street. However, moving installation is perhaps one trend any retailer can take from London’s leading stores.
Last Christmas, Harrods windows became Orient Express-style train carriages filled with mannequins modelling the latest seasonal partywear. Behind these beau monde passengers, passing scenes of a Winter Wonderland rolled by the carriage window—video screens creating an illusion of movement along the railway track.
A flat screen at the back of an undertaker’s window could perhaps engage passers by. An uncontroversial video for said screen could perhaps be one of those time lapse videos on a loop: the rising and setting sun; flowers budding into bloom before shedding their petals; the ebb and flow of the tide; a race through the seasons—winter, spring, summer, autumn. All these natural scenes are appropriate, too, provoking thought about life, death and rebirth, the beauty, frailty and eternal optimism of life cycles.
There are also videos of ageing faces morphing from baby, toddler and teen through to the various stages of adulthood. The time lapse video could become synonymous with FDs, rather like those woodland scenes now ubiquitous on FD websites, even those not specialising in eco-funerals.
The eye-catching screen could set the scene for props in the window, too. A time lapse nature scene would be harmonious with displays of, say, wicker and cardboard coffins and urns, generously festooned with wild flowers and foliage.
A display of sleek modernist coffins and urns could be set in a more minimalist backdrop with the screen showing the numerals of a digital clock’s hour, minutes and seconds ticking away. Again, it says something about time passing. Traditional coffins could be accessorised with more formal floral displays beneath a screen of flickering candles, evoking a mood without risking health and safety. A film of poppy fields might serve as the prerequisite WWI anniversary display.
Undertakers’ window displays market not just funeral products and services but brand personality, meaning the display brief is wide open to creative and conceptual ideas.
A window with a lonely coffin and mean flower arrangement in a single vase says, no imagination. And when it remains unchanged for months at a time, it says, no effort, which could be construed as apathetic service, even when this is not the case.
Creative and changing displays attract attention in themselves and also make people anticipate the next visual surprise. It’s worth investing in an artistic window dresser and the props that are the tools of his/her trade in order to build awareness and identity of brand.
Good windows can stimulate sufficient buzz to even inspire media attention, thus doubling up as PR as well as direct marketing to consumers. Even publicity initially criticising a window as controversial can turn into a plus, giving you the opportunity to explain its positive message. Never any harm in thinking out of the box.
A few videos:
41 years in 60 seconds