Innocean and Hyundai Draw Scorn for Using Suicide Attempt in Car Ad

Hyundai Pipe Job

Last week when I first saw the Hyundai ad titled “Pipe Job” (embedded below), I bookmarked it and put it aside with the thought of looking up more details later.

I thought that somehow this had to be some kind of terrible inside joke, and not a “real” ad. Who would even think to try to sell the car’s primary selling feature of 100% water emissions by showing a man failing to commit suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Was it “edgy”? Was it shocking? Yes and yes. Did it make my stomach turn? Oh, hell yes!

Maybe the agency’s creative minds were sparked by the scene in Mad Men when Lane Pryce planned suicide failed due to the unreliability of the Jaguar’s ignition. Or maybe they just totally swiped the whole idea from Citro├źn’s 2002 suicide ad (thanks AdLand for re-referencing).

Or, was this another terribly misguided creative exercise like JWT India’s Ford Figo mockups, showing women bound and gagged in the back of a car?

While it’s conceivable that the idea may have popped up in a brainstorming meeting (I’ve been in enough of those), it’s tough to imagine it being worked into a pitch, being approved by the client and working it’s way through an expensive production process without somebody throwing up their arms and going, “What in holy freaking fuck are we doing here?”

Outrage over the ad rose to a whole new level today with a heartbreaking blog post titled “An open letter to Innocean and Hyundai“, by London freelance copywriter Holly Brockwell. Holly wrote of her reaction to the ad, and how it brought back the terrible memories surrounding her own father’s suicide in a car.

She went on to write, “As an advertising creative, I would like to congratulate you on achieving the visceral reaction we all hope for. On prompting me to share it on my Twitter page and my blog. I would not like to congratulate you on making me cry for my dad.” Ending with, “My dad never drove a Hyundai. Thanks to you, neither will I.”

A Hyundai spokesman was quoted in an article on The Independent as saying, “There’s no plan to use [the advert] in any of our advertising or marketing and it has been taken down.”

As with anything posted on the web, the ad had already been reposted on dozens of YouTube channels.

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