Advertise on Headstones

Advertise on Headstones. Is it Acceptable?

For a long time a British funeral was finalized with a burial and a wake. A great monumental headstone would be crafted and positioned by the grave and seen as a marker of celebration, loss and at times status and wealth. Times are changing, graveyards are becoming overcrowded, plots will become more expensive and subsequently treated as real estate. Demand will drive up the cost.
How will you pay for your family plot? possibly some sort of insurance or savings. You then have to consider the maintenance of the grounds and the headstone.

fmWe were recently contacted by a company in America who has come up with an unusual and controversial idea.

Email from Mr Robert Barrows
To: Editor ( Funeral Magazine )
From: Robert Barrows
R.M. Barrows Advertising & Public Relations (and Video Tombstones)
Date: July 6, 2015
Re: Advertising on Video Tombstones

Dear Editor:
Enclosed is a link to a Wall Street Journal article (July 6, 2015) about advertising on the internet.
The headline in the paper was different than the headline online.
Here is the headline that was in the paper:
“Why ads are the best thing ever to happen to the internet.”

Here is a link to the article online that ran with a different headline of “Hats off to web advertising. No really.”

Now, taking this one step further, I am curious if people will say that advertising on video tombstones will be the best thing that will ever happen to society? (Or if video tombstones themselves should be banned? )

In any case, the subject will definitely create a lot of controversy…and all of that controversy will create a tremendous awareness for television and book and film projects that might be based on stories told through video tombstones, and all of that controversy could become a great marketing tool for projects based on video tombstones….to which I submit, a book I wrote called “Cemetery of Lies.”
You can see more about the book at

Now…Here is some background and information on video tombstones and the possibilities of advertising on them:

I am the inventor of a video tombstone called the Video Enhanced Gravemarker (U.S. patent #7,089,495). You can see more about it at

I have also anticipated that there will also be advertising on video tombstones, especially to help defray the costs of the video tombstone and its care and maintenance throughout eternity.

In the financial world, there is a term called “tombstone advertising.” When I first heard that term I thought “What is that…advertising on a tombstone?” And that led me to thinking about video tombstones and finally to filing a patent on a video tombstone, which I received in 2006. (I actually filed the patent on Halloween in 2002 and it took about four years to get the patent because there was a lot of prior art.)

NOW, regarding the costs of a video tombstone and the advertising possibilities…

First, here is a run down of the anticipated costs:

A) Weatherproofed video equipment able to tolerate large temperature variations:

These costs will vary with the size and shape of the video equipment and the tombstone, but you could estimate that weatherproofed video equipment might run about $5,000-$7,000 at today’s costs.

B) The video tombstone itself:
Estimate that a video tombstone built to house the equipment might run about $7,000-$10,000 at today’s costs.

So, the cost of the video tombstone itself might be about $12,000-$17,000

Next, add in the fact that the Monument Builder, the Funeral Home and the Cemetery, and the inventor, might also want to make a nice profit, and each of those parties might add another $5,000 each to the cost…

So, the final cost of a video tombstone might be about $32,000-$37,000, depending on the size and shape of the tombstone.

Of course, mass production of video tombstones could help take the costs down a lot, but various sectors of the funerary industry will still want their cut, so the costs might not go down that much.

C) A Perpetual Care fund

Now, since the video equipment will have to be maintained and replaced over time, you would also need a perpetual care fund to sustain it.

Let’s say the fund was about $200,000 so that the interest on that fund could produce enough money to maintain the equipment throughout eternity.

All of a sudden, the initial costs of a video tombstone might add up to close to $240,000 or more (plus tax and shipping).

The very wealthy can afford things like that (imagine the $10,000,000 that Leona Helmsley reportedly paid for her Mausoleum)…and for the rest of us, we could rely on advertising to help defray the costs of a video tombstone, and the advertising on video tombstones could also provide income for the survivors because who knows what kinds of juicy things might be said through the video tombstones of celebrities or the girl next door…and the video content from many video tombstones could attract tremendous audiences from all over the world.

C) Which leads us to Advertising possibilities:

In addition to ads on the video content of the tombstone, the video content can also be made available over the internet so there will be even more possibilities for advertising.
(There are currently many such Video Cemeteries online.)

And imagine if people like Michael Jackson or Marilyn Monroe had video tombstones…Imagine the advertising money that those video tombstones could generate!

D) Since I realize that it will be quite some time before video tombstones will start appearing in cemeteries on a regular basis, I also realize that the big money to be made from video tombstones will be in books and movies and television programs that will be based on stories that will be told through video tombstones.

The video tombstone is an ideal storytelling device for all kinds of stories, from vampire and zombie stories to whodunits and love stories, and historical pieces…and along those lines, I have also written a book called “Cemetery of Lies.”

Cemetery of Lies is a collection of intimate secret confessions, as told from beyond the grave, through video tombstones. The stories are about life and love, sex and romance, good and evil, success and money and Heaven and Hell.

I have also written a treatment for possible television and film adaptations of Cemetery of Lies. You can see more about the book
Please give me a call if you would like any additional information about the Video Enhanced Gravemarker or Cemetery of Lies.

It will make a fascinating follow-up to stories about advertising on the internet, and since video tombstones will also create a tremendous amount of controversy and since they will also create some fascinating free speech issues…”You’d better book your advertising now so you can get ad space on the juiciest stories that might be told through video tombstones.
What would you say from your own video tombstone?
And imagine all the advertising possibilities that you might even be able to pre sell at the upfronts!

Robert Barrows
R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations
847 N. Humboldt St. #207
San Mateo, CA 94401

fmDrop us a line, we would like to hear your views. Can we Advertise on Headstones in England?