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A fake funeral home wants people to text and drive

Thousands of drivers die every year in wrecks caused by texting behind the wheel. But where most see a tragedy, an enterprising funeral home might see a business opportunity.

At least that's the morbid premise of a provocative billboard that has been shocking drivers on a freeway near Toronto this week.

With stark text and design, the billboard urges passing motorists to "text and drive" — a message supposedly brought to them by "Watham Funeral Home."

But any outraged drivers who cared to dig further would find, upon visiting the funeral home's website, that the business doesn't actually exist. Instead, it's part of a diabolical public service announcement created by Canadian ad agency John St. and outdoor ad placement company Cieslok Media.

"It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do," the text on the website reads. "But we're not a funeral home."

"We're just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving, which is projected to kill more people in Ontario this year than drinking and driving. That's right. More."

Real-world marketing stunts designed to maximize shock value are a popular tactic for the makers of PSAs. Last month, a women's rights group backed a campaign that planted sinister college acceptance letters to draw attention to college campus rape, and ad agency Grey recently tricked movie-goers into watching a gory anti-gun film disguised as an action movie.

However, there is one slight drawback to using an attention-grabbing billboard to combat distracted driving: it can be a little distracting itself.

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