By on August 23, 2011

When Mercedes featured hooded death in an ad for its Brake Assistance System, our own European automotive advertising veteran, Bertel Schmitt, wrote

never in my life would I have expected to see the grim reaper in a car ad. Especially not in the death seat. Especially not in a Mercedes ad. The boys from Sindelfingen never were known for their daredevil approach to advertising. Even at Volkswagen, which used to take more risk in their campaigns (< - they said this one wasn’t approved), any ad showing an old man with a scythe would have been immediately – - killed.

Of course, most Americans wouldn’t bat an eye at an ad featuring death… from politics to sales, our culture is built on scaring people into buying/accepting things. But this Dutch ad for the Hyundai Veloster, which was apparently approved and then banned, would have caused a few quizzical looks in any country. Not because it features death incarnate, but because advertising the Veloster’s freaky three-door layout as a safety feature is just that absurd. This ad should never have seen the light of day for the simple reason that it’s an old-school and utterly conventional approach (by banned-ad standards, anyway) to marketing one of the few cars on the market that is willfully and unnecessarily unique, simply for the sake of being unique. Surely, in this age of appliance-like cars, conventional styling and unadventurous product planning, uniqueness is enough of a marketing hook on its own…

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22 Comments on “Truth Versus Advertising: It’s A Safety Feature!...”

  • avatar

    Wow. I have to say I’m impressed.

    It’s a nice balance, in a way: creepy, but not as creepy as it could have been. Pretty gutsy for a mass-market ad.

  • avatar

    Unique? Pish. Chevy did the very same thing more than 40 years ago.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d hazard that digging up something from a very long time ago an reimplementing it is reasonably innovative. Chances are that the parents of anyone considering a Veloster weren’t a twinkle in their parent’s eye when that Suburban was around.

      That said, didn’t the Saturn S-Series have a similar setup?

    • 0 avatar

      Heh. My parents had one of those, I remember picking up a bunch of friends right after I got my license and one of them running up to open the (non-existent) driver’s side rear door. The look on his face when he did exactly what Mr. Reaper did was priceless. Not the hit by the car bit, just grabbing for the handle that wasn’t there.

      That said, as a “safety feature” that’s pretty lame. Used to be all vans had a rear door only on the passenger side, and I don’t remember any spike in passenger deaths when they started putting doors on both sides. I just hope some moron doesn’t see this and start lobbying for the banning of rear driver’s side doors on all vehicles. Think of the children!!!

  • avatar

    A three door car solves a problem that isn’t a real problem. The first ten years of minivans had three doors, and Chrysler added a forth, and three doors went away fast.

  • avatar

    My one complaint is that there isn’t enough cleavage. I like cleavage.

    And this ad validates the point that I made another thread about fuel filler doors belonging on the passenger side of the car. (Admittedly, I also failed to use cleavage in those posts, but we all make mistakes…)

  • avatar

    Not even in the land where mowing down people with a machine gun earns a PG rating while a pair of tits is an automatic R would an ad like that be on TV.

    I haven’t seen anything like this since the more serious drunk driving warnings that used to play in Irish TV.

  • avatar

    Though I must reveal my b*as towards 3-door hatchbacks, I was excited about the Veloster as a potential replacement for my aging Civic.

    I don’t like jump doors. Yes, they make backseat access much easier, but at a cost of styling I’m unwilling to pay. The Saturn SC/Ion, Mazda RX-8, and this would have all looked much better if they lacked jump doors. Which is the whole point of coupes, in my book: to look better than sedans. The back seat should be an afterthought.

    So when I found out the Veloster has a jump door (and only one), my enthusiasm waned a bit. I wanted a cheap Scirocco – low-slung, aggressive, able to get out of its own way – and three-doored– not a silly gimmick that adds weight and complexity and kills the looks.

    • 0 avatar

      I doubt the jump door adds much weight. The Mini Clubman weighs about 140 pounds more than the hatchback, including the jump door, 8 extra inches of wheelbase, and dual barn doors on the rear. Makes the back seat much more usable, I think it’s a worthwhile trade off, but YMMV of course.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not a jump door, it’s a conventionally hinged one.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Eh. Times change. For instance:

    – Did you ever think people would walk around with their underpants hanging out?

    – Did you ever think you’d hear people say “ass” on TV or radio, yet kids at the local high school get sent to the deans’ offices for saying bitch? Watch an episode of “Family Guy.”

    – That people were once ticketed for wearing headphones and listening to their Sony Walkmans while driving?

    – That rap music would become mainstream?

    Changing standards for advertisements is not a big deal.

  • avatar

    I haven’t had more than one person at a time in my back seat in 25 months of owning my current car. To me, the safety aspect is of little impact. I think that the three doors make good sense. The car can be a bit lighter, a bit cheaper, and a bit more rigid.

  • avatar

    Not because it features death incarnate, but because advertising the Veloster’s freaky three-door layout as a safety feature is just that absurd.

    Or maybe – just possibly – because there’s a graphic image of a woman being splattered by a car. Did anyone notice that part?

  • avatar

    Hang on, is this in fact an attempt to kill more Japanese passengers?

  • avatar

    I thought about catchphrases for this thing when It hit the market here in Korea.
    “Tell me about your new car”.
    “well it’s a 4 door on the right and a 2 door on the left, so it’s the worlds first 6 door sedan!
    “But it’s a hatchback too, right?”
    “Then it’s a 7 door”.
    “4 plus 3 is 6”
    “But the hatch makes it 7!”
    Veloster, the world’s first no, make that that 6, no, 7, no 4 including the hatch, no 3, ah hell, come on down and test drive it

  • avatar

    Veloster? What type of contraption is a Veloster? Sounds like a bicycle with two wheels up front and a huge basket in the rear and loaded with reflectors and streamers. Oh, it’s a car. Nice. Looks good. Stupid name.

  • avatar

    Well, if you’re going to have a single door for the rear passengers, the curb side would be the place to put it. As to RHD countries, it’s unclear whether Hyundai will make a “mirror image” chassis – if they don’t, then this ad would be evidence that those unfortunates in RHD countries are “expendable”.

    That blathered, I’d buy this car because it IS different (and efficient, and sporty, and a hatch). I also like the “athletic shoe” look, at least in pictures. Can’t wait to see one in person (c’mon Hyundai, summer is almost over!)

    We’ll just have to see if the DCT is a better effort than that in the Focus/Fiesta.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I like the ad for the fact that it took a little risk in advertising, but selling it as a ‘safety feature’ is a little lame.

  • avatar

    selling it as a ‘safety feature’ is a little lame.

    The ad was tongue-in-cheek.

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