By on April 26, 2013

Hyundai chickened out and took down a clever ad that promotes the zero carbon emissions of its ix35 in a very convincing way: The ad shows a man who tries to commit suicide using a hose attached to the exhaust. The man fails and lives. Instead, the ad was killed.

After people who did not get the morbid humor of the ad created a social media shitstorm, Hyundai pulled the ad and apologized. Hyundai’s crossover ix35 is sold as the Tucson in the United States.

According to Reuters,  the ad “was made by the European unit of Innocean Worldwide Corp, an in-house advertising firm that is 40 percent owned by Chung Sung-yi, a daughter of Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo.”

Nevertheless, Hyundai issued a statement, saying that “The ad was created by an affiliate advertising agency, Innocean Europe, without Hyundai’s request or approval. It runs counter to our values as a company and as members of the community. We are very sorry for any offense or distress the video caused. More to the point, Hyundai apologizes to those who have been personally impacted by tragedy.”

As TTAC reader David Hester correctly comments, the idea of the ad isn’t even that original. In 2009, Toyota’s admen had the same idea, did a (slightly better executed) botched suicice-by-Prius ad, and the ad still lives.

What’s more, Hyundai went on the hunt for the ad and erased it. It’s Youtube link says that “this video is no longer available due to a trademark claim by a third party.” It’s funny that these trademark issues only come up in embarrassing situations like these.  Otherwise,  companies are usually happy that videos are shown for free on YouTube.

Risqué ads are more likely to go viral than boring ones. Making them becomes risky, and often suicidal business. If they don’t get the clicks, the ad agency gets the boot. If the ads get clicks, but also complaints – which are par for the course – the agency gets in trouble and the client says the ad was never approved. Yeah, sure.

Show some spine, Hyundai.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

46 Comments on “Hyundai Creates Killer Ad, Does Not Want You To See It...”


  • avatar

    Weak sauce. What’s surprising, however, is how weak the campaign of anti-Hundai bullying was, compared, say, to anti-Progressive campaign. And yet they folded.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, I feel all those people who don’t think CO2 is a problem should do this. While I feel this commercial is just as brilliant as that Volkswagon “bomb” commercial, I feel as if South Korea doesn’t have a high opinion of it’s westerner buyers.

      Maybe instead of buying a Sonata or Galaxy 4 to send your dollars to South Korea for the upcoming war, you should ensure your own people actually have factory jobs back at home???

  • avatar

    I always wonder about things like this. A lot of money went into that ad, and a LOT of people saw it before it aired. Then they take it down a few days later because of the firestorm?

    Personally, I think the ad is too offensive. But still: didn’t SOMEONE who saw the ad over the last few weeks and months raise this point? Did everyone at Hyundai get all excited when they saw the ad and now they’re stunned by the backlash?

    This happens every so often (Ford with the women tied up) and it always surprises me more than the ads themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Apparently being a yes man is still essential to a management career in the auto industry.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      From an advertizing standpoint the bigger issue is that the ad completely denigrates the idea of a Hyundai buyer, not that it is offensive.

      Hyundai is finally escaping its past and establishing itself as a legitimate brand, and then it releases (or not, depending who you ask) an ad that portrays Hyundai buyers as people who want to kill themselves, but cannot even succeed at that?

  • avatar
    David Hester

    Everything old is new again.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/09/toyota-prius-happy-shiny-and-hard-to-kill-yourself-with/

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    It might have gotten Hyundai some unwanted attention from the Obama regime if they’d run it here. After 4 years of hope and change, suicide overtook car accidents as the leading cause of injury deaths in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Hmm, I thought it was assault rifle attacks. Are you sure it isn’t assault rifle attacks?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Yes life is so terrible here that suicides are at the levels seen in such hell holes as Sweden and Norway and below those in Japan, France, Austria, Belgium and New Zealand!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

      You also leave out that deaths from cars have decreased over the same period (2009 to 2012).
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

      I also note that over half of all suicides were by firearms.
      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm

      Not everything has to be political.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’m glad you had your hand on the holster with all those statistics. Lest someone forget that our situation isn’t quite yet as depressing as some other places.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Places with even more government intrusions in daily life. Coincidence?

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Doesn`t South Korea have less intrusion (if you measure that by % of GDP as public spending), or Lithuania? Both of which rank right near the top.
            I suppose we should try to be like Pakistan because they have a very low rate of suicide, so obviously being a very Islamic country is a good thing. Coincidence??

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Is it unique to Islam, or is it being part of a culture that’s growing in influence and unapologetic about its own existence?

          • 0 avatar
            CamryStang

            Care to demonstrate the causal tie?

            Those countries also have fewer black people. Therefore, by you own logic, black people prevent suicide.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    What is the world coming too if you can’t even off yourself with emissions?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I guess owning a Hyundai is so depressing that they had to combat the problem of suicidal owners by eliminating carbon monoxide emissions from their exhaust.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Wondered how far down I’d have to read the comments before someone with a brain mentioned carbon monoxide.

      Almost a pity you had to mention it, as I was wondering if any aspiring DIYers were going to give it a go on their Elantra GTs and prove Darwin right once again.

  • avatar
    stickmanonymous

    As with the Ford Ka/cat advertisements, it seems to me that these ads are commissioned directly by the company with notoriety in mind. They draw attention to the brand, which is exactly what they are supposed to do. The offense of the ad is designed to amuse some, but the company has strategies in place to distance itself from others who are less amused. I don’t believe that Hyundai didn’t know about this ad.

    Interestingly, the ad implies that owning this Hyundai is part of some boring, middle-class existence that will make you want to kill yourself.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Please explain why I hear what sounds like a running engine in an electric vehicle, and would visible vapor actually come out of a hose like that?
    I understand the point they’re trying to make but the ad will be unsettling to many people. Anyway, after running around in vain trying to find a hydrogen refueling station, the owner will just shoot himself in frustration.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/04/25/hyundai_suicide_ad_an_ad_exec_responds_with_memories_of_her_father.html

    I can understand why some might be offended. I can also understand Hyundai’s desire to do a “green” ad without flowers and sunshine and the Lorax.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    It took more courage for Hyundai to offer the 10/100 warranty, and to build the Veloster and Equus, than to produce this ad.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Knowing someone who had a loved one do this exact thing to themselves and succeed…I can see why the ad was pulled. Some things are so sensitive, so painful, and so unapproachable that it isn’t worth the risk on something as comparatively meaningless as a car ad.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Disgusting and reprehensible.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    News of this ad comes on the heels of the sixth season premiere of Mad Men, in which don drafts an ad for The Royal Hawaiian Hotel that is nothing but an image of a pile of work clothes strewn on the beach and bare footprints headed into the ocean.

    The client thought it looked like an image of suicide, having seen A Star Is Born, in which James Mason drowns himself in the ocean.

    Wait…I gotta watch an ad to watch an ad? WTF, THG.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Risqué ads are more likely to go viral than boring ones.”

    This is why I thought that in the Audi “Prom” Super Bowl ad the main character should have kissed the prom king.

    Audi would have had the news for days.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Be close to one suicide and your attitude changes. Imagine walking in on your wife/brother/friend, bloated and bugeyed from their final spasms, having choked so hard on CO their eyes are full of blood from the strain.

    Now imagine it was your child. I watched a father suffer that crippling confusion as he buried his own son, after paying the trauma crew and cleaning out the bedroom.

    Bertel, you’ve got interesting articles but I once took six months off from commenting because of another really, really polarizing position you took. I really hope you change your mind on that last sentence.

    • 0 avatar

      Bertel is an ad man and as such I believe his perspective is different. People in that field and other “creative” areas like to push the limits on such matters, but you can count me in as one of those tired of such things. I don’t watch such things as CSI, Dexter, because of their celebration of gore and violence. You don’t need to be so explicit. I think there’s something wrong with all of that and I can’t say but I think society does pay a price for the existence of such things.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        This is perhaps a more diplomatic way of putting it, and better because it’s removed from the ad’s implied situation. I like dark humor as much as anyone, and suicide is something we all joke about pretty commonly. Yet I see why the ad was pulled: that’s a REALLY dark joke. It surprises me that we can’t joke about issues where nobody dies (rape, pedophilia), but when someone’s dead there’s enough distance to create comedy. Maybe it’s because not enough people have seen dead bodies, but the victims of horrific nonlethal crimes survive among us.

      • 0 avatar
        arun

        Interesting you mention Dexter…I find Dexter good because it is not explicit in it’s visual imagery of the murders – the exact opposite of your opinion

        • 0 avatar

          Oh, I like some gory series too. Criminal Minds can be interesting sometimes as is Law and Order – SVU. I see your point. Dexter is kind of lysergic in its imagery, but the I find the concept of a serial killer hero objectionable. I’ve watched it and it makes me uneasy, so I don’t. But again I understand what you said.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            “lysergic in its imagery”

            Never saw that used as an adjective before…very apt.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            I’ve expressed my dislike for the concept of Dexter to friends who’ve told me to watch it – they don’t understand that even if it’s “subtle”, the idea of a “serial killer hero” is just offensive to me, and its acceptance makes me sad for what we’ve become.

            Of course, our pseudo-Puritanical society (where sex is verboten, but violence is entertainment) has always dumbfounded me.

            As to this ad, it’s just another example of the coarseness of public discourse (sic) can reach these days; especially if there’s a profit motive.

  • avatar
    naterator

    Surprised no one mentioned the Audi “Clean Diesel” ad from a couple of years ago. 97% identical to this ad.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I mean, do you all know with any certainty that the Hyundai UK execs actually *did* approve the ad? It is entirely possible that the video was created by Innocean without being asked for or approved by the proper channels, especially since it had a relatively-low budget. Such a scenario seems even more plausible for Ford’s “tied-and-gagged” ad, because I doubt any automaker would *ever* be mistaken into thinking that it was in good taste…

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    Didn’t they get into a bit of trouble over their Veloster ad that featured someone getting creamed after getting out from the wrong side of the car?

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Another example, Hyundai only copies, and incompletely.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India