Cemetery gardeners launch new image campaign

Cemetery gardeners launch new image campaign
Photo: BdF
Golf, art, punk and Francophile-themed gravesites were introduced on Tuesday in Essen as part of a new image campaign called “Long Live the Graveyard!” by the German association of cemetery gardeners (BdF).

The campaign aims to help the public overcome possible stereotypes about cemetery gardeners and create dialogue about the culture of death and grief, the group’s spokesperson Sybille Trawinski told The Local.

“It’s a special tradition in Germany, even more so than in the rest of Europe,” Trawinski said. “But with an increase in anonymous burials, we are seeing harder competition between the gardening firms, not to mention problems that families encounter when they don’t have a specific place to go and be with the loved one who has passed away.”

In addition to a television commercial, outdoor advertising and newspaper ads, the BdF has created a website that features different personalised gravesite themes and a database of symbolic plants.

“With this campaign we want to speak up for our grief culture, the survival of which we feel is essential for every single one of us and society as a whole,” BdF head Lüder Nobbmann said in a statement, adding that cemeteries are “above all a place for the living.”

Matthias Birk owns Friedhofsgärtnerei Birk in Berlin, one of Germany’s more than 4,000 cemetery gardening firms. He told The Local that the campaign will be helpful for the sector.

“It is an anonymous job, most people don’t know much about the cemetery culture,” he said. “But more than that I hope it will bring business – we’re losing jobs because people don’t want to spend their money on grave sites anymore.”

But he said the “creative grave designs” highlighted by the BdF’s new advertisements to highlight the profession have not yet taken hold in the five cemeteries his firm tends.

“German cemeteries are either owned by the church or the state, and the state-run facilities tend to allow more of that thing,” he chuckled. “And I think this campaign is aimed at the public cemeteries.”

The BdF’s Trawinski told The Local that the organisation hopes to encourage the growing trend at more traditional cemeteries.

“It’s about the survivors and not the cemetery management,” she said. “And customers have much higher expectations that they did 20 years ago. They want individual consultation to bring their creative ideas about the deceased to the gravesite.”

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