The ICCFA Educational Foundation is a 501(c)(3) entity, and part of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA), an international trade association representing all segments of the cemetery, funeral service, cremation, and memorialization profession. The foundation’s purpose is to raise the standards of professionalism within the profession.
In 2020, the ICCFA Educational Foundation created a video (https://vimeo.com/414953139) to recognize and thank the Final Responders - those funeral professionals on the front line (or should I say the backline) of this COVID-19 pandemic- to the general public. The finished video was distributed only to association members and was not shared with the general public. An outgrowth of this video was a series of public service announcements that were launched in February 2021.
The primary objective of the PSA campaign was to create awareness for these “Final Responders” with the general public, thereby elevating the stature of the funeral profession. A secondary objective was to acknowledge and thank the various members of the funeral profession.
The singular purpose of funeral directors, cemeterians, and cremation providers is to make the darkest days and the most difficult journey for families a little easier. In the face of the pandemic, it had been a challenge to be the beacon of light for these families. All segments of the funeral profession – funeral homes, cemeteries, crematories, memorialization, and suppliers – had been dealing firsthand with the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020.
As part of their calling, funeral professionals have provided comfort to families following the death of a loved one. As a result of the pandemic, many families were not able to be present at the bedside of their dying loved one and are limited in how they might honor their loved one during a funeral service. In the face of the pandemic, funeral directors, cemeterians and cremation providers have become creative in finding ways for families to find comfort following a loved one’s death.
Like First Responders, these individuals put in tireless hours - not only preparing loved ones after their death but assisting the remaining family members as they struggle with grief in these times of social distancing and the restrictions in funeral gatherings.
With this as a backdrop, the ICCFA Educational Foundation team set about to get the original video revised into the appropriate PSA formats and lengths - :60, :30, :15. In addition to English, the PSAs were also produced in Spanish and French Canadian.
All elements of the PSA campaign were coordinated by Joe Weigel of Weigel Strategic Marketing. The PSAs were created by Chad Vriezelaar of Go Live Media Group (who also created the video above). The initial plans were to distribute the PSAs using internal resources, but the team quickly learned of the challenges in distributing the PSAs without an experienced partner.
As a result, the team contracted with Megaphone Media to handle the distribution of the PSA spots. Kyle Carmone at Megaphone Media provided the team with additional insights on how to best format the PSAs for best results with the TV stations and cable networks as well as the physical distribution of PSAs.
The ICCFA used the PSAs on their social media channels. In addition, members of the association (funeral directors, cemeterians, and crematory operators) were encouraged to place the PSAs on their websites as well as to post them on their Facebook pages. Also, for those members who spend part of their advertising budget on local TV and cable systems, it was suggested they request that the media run these PSAs.
According to Nielsen TV research, since they first began airing in March 2020 in the United States, the Final Responders TV PSAs have been broadcast 9886 times and generated $6,069,204 in media value. The PSAs have aired on local TV stations and cable networks in all 50 states and the spots have been viewed by 109,021,129 people.
According to Kyle Carmone, the company that coordinated the distribution and placement of the PSAs, for an organization to achieve these kinds of results with a PSA campaign, typically a celebrity spokesperson must be associated with the effort. In the 20 years he has been in this business, Carmone stated that Final Responders is one of the most successful PSA campaigns with which he had ever been associated.