Marketing The Legacy: A Guide To Posthumous Marketing


As the old saying goes, a dead elephant is worth millions more than a live one. Similar is the case with the deceased celebrities in the market. Posthumous Marketing is something that got huge limelight when some of the biggest celebs like Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Paul Walker, and Sushant Singh Rajput died tragically.

Who knew a person can also earn money when they have left the world of all materialistic pleasures. You would be shocked to know that Michael Jackson ended up earning more than a billion dollars posthumously. He is not the only celebrity who earned a fortune after their death. Here are a few examples from the film industry alone:

  • The song “See You Again”, created as a tribute for Paul Walker ended up getting more than 4 Billion views on YouTube.
  • “Bowie- Legacy” made $55 for Sony, as David Bowie was one of the most loved celebs of his time.
  • “Dil Bechara”, the last of Sushant Singh Rajput, was a huge success at the Box Office. It is one of the top-rated movies over IMDB.

Sensitivity: Something To Think About

There is no doubt that celebs can end up earning quite more money than they were alive. At the end of the day, we need to remember that they are humans too, with a family that might not be too visible over the screen.

The family is the one who lost a member, and it is not quite flattering for them to sometimes see the death of their loved ones being used as a money-making opportunity. The sensitivity of the situation is something that is mostly ignored by the brands.

The brands need to remember, if the celebrities are loved by one section of the society, there is another section of the society that might not be that much in love with them. Since their life, and death is like a public event, sometimes inappropriate situations might arise that end up hurting the family badly.

In this article, we would be discussing how brands can be extra careful if they are going for posthumous marketing.

1. Turning Off The Comments:

Social Media is one of the major platforms where marketing is done at its best. But, posthumous marketing can become a bit tricky over social media. Everybody is aware of the existence of trolls on social media, who can end up spamming your marketing campaign with hurtful comments.

If you are using somebody else’s legacy to promote yourself, then you need to make sure that sensitivity is something that is maintained over the campaign. To safeguard your brand, and campaign from any type of spamming, or taint you can simply switch off the comment section over all platforms.

2. Sensitive Design

In the case of posthumous marketing, you have to make sure that the design and narrative of the campaign are respectful towards the deceased. If you are using somebody else’s story, make sure you are using the good parts of their life, and honoring their talent in the best possible way.

Be careful about the wording that is used in the campaign, or creative. Involve their families during the release, it will highlight your respect towards the family’s feelings and the deceased.

3. The Timing

Timing is one of the major tricky businesses when it comes to posthumous marketing. You need to be careful to keep a certain pause to your campaign if the celebrity has died recently.

For example, Sushant Singh Rajput died suddenly before his film was about to be released at the box office. The release date of the movie was postponed in the respect of the deceased celebrity. This gesture not only gave the family some space but something positive to remember the actor with.

Thus whenever you design a campaign honoring someone deceased, make sure the feelings of every individual related to the celebrity are equally respected.

4. The Medium

What is the final product? This is something that will conclude the relevance of the campaign. If you are honoring a movie star, a movie, or something from the entertainment sector seems more relevant while honoring them.

Whatever your brand is about, make sure to use a relevant face, otherwise, the whole campaign will not work out in the manner it is intended to be. You also need to take care about what is being communicated through the medium of your choice. Which qualities of the deceased are you honoring through your gesture, are you remembering him/her as a professional, or as a human being.

Is Posthumous Marketing For Everybody?

The answer to the question posted above is quite tricky. Mostly the answer moves towards a big ‘No’ if we consider the sensitive aspect of it. But, the answer lies in the grey area.

It depends upon what you want to communicate. Is it a simple honor, or a publicity stunt? In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput, and Siddharth Shukla, many social media pages, various actors, celebrities gained huge popularity. They earned a huge sum of money as well.

Thus, the answer to this question is quite subjective in itself. Sana Khan, the best friend of Sidharth Shukla earned a huge sum, does that mean she loves her friend a little less. Maybe she wanted to remember their moments and still ended up getting money through different platforms, as the song gained huge popularity.

May all of us need to give a thought to such situations.


No doubt posthumous marketing is quite a tricky business in itself. If done right, it can earn a huge sum and popularity for the brand.

The thing is nobody can predict when such situations might backfire as well. The deceased is a popular human being, with many lovers but enemies too. Nobody knows what might trigger the audience, and nobody is a stranger to the boycott campaigns over Twitter as well.

The only suggestion while choosing posthumous marketing is to be sensitive, and respectful to the dead.

Ankit Kumar Sharma
Experienced Account Strategist with a demonstrated history of working in the Information Technology and services industry. Skilled in E-commerce, Communication, Strategy, Digital Marketing, Growth Hacking, and E-commerce SEO. Digital Advertising, Marketing & Sales are my passion & I love what I do, I breathe it. I want to explore more, learn more, try different tools, hacks with various campaigns.

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