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.