A hoax coffin with a mannequin found floating in the Hutt River, which flows through the southern North Island of New Zealand, has been labelled an ill-conceived marketing stunt. Authorities had received a report that a coffin had been spotted near the Waione Bridge at Petone. Inside was a mannequin and a sign directing people to a website run by Dan Herbison from Wellington.
The mannequin in the coffin had a supposedly-dead model holding a sign reading: ''If only I'd advertised for an electrician ... I wouldn't have tried to fix it myself.''
Victoria University school of management marketing expert David Stewart said Herbison had failed in his bid for exposure and had created a negative buzz around his business with the ill-conceived stunt.
''People will be offended and think he's an idiot. Death and dying in New Zealand society is still a bit of a taboo subject - it's an emotional thing.''
Photo from here.
Herbison, posing as a fisherman, contacted reporters on Monday morning, saying he had spotted the coffin floating and then anchored it to the riverbank.
Stewart said this tactic was deceptive and would lead people to question if he ran his businesses in an ethical way.
Herbison later admitted he placed the coffin in the river to advertise his job-finding website. He called police and told them of the hoax once he realised he had gone too far with the guerrilla marketing stunt.
Photo from here.
''I have taken it too far,'' he said after police went to the scene, which they promptly cordoned off.
''I'm in a bit of shit here.
It's going to get bad, I know.''
Police are now considering charging Herbison.
Police spokesman Nick Bohm said police, who cordoned off the scene near Waione Bridge, would consider laying charges for wasting police time and resources.
The prank was ''highly insensitive'' to families who had lost loved ones in the area, Bohm said.
The coffin was found about 50m from where the body of Brett Ramon Waiwai, 30, of Lower Hutt was found less than a year ago.