By B.L. Ochman
With its latest ad, Hyundai has outdone Ford India’s misogynistic celebrity kidnapping and bondage ads for Figo.
The Hyundai ad, entitled “Pipe Job,” was created by the ad agency Innocean Europe. Despite Hyundai’s denials, Forbes says Innocean is an in-house agency at Hyundai.
The ad shows the man taping a hose from a Hyundai ix35‘s exhaust pipe in an attempt to commit suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide. We watch him as he sits in the car, in the dark garage, waiting to die. Then the light comes on and the door opens and we see the tag line “The New ix35 with 100% water emissions.” Apparently the message is “you can’t kill yourself with this car.”
Just as Ford India denied that it actually had approved the Figo ads, and later was proved to have signed off on them, Hyundai initially said the ad had no official approval.
I don’t believe them, and I wonder if you do. I think Hyundai Europe, like Ford India and many other companies that issue denials for ads that have already delivered their marketing messages, knew full well that “Pipe Job” existed, even though they denied it and apologized.
Otherwise, how else could the ad have been conceived, storyboarded, cast, shot, and edited without Hyundai’s knowledge? Frankly, if it was, I’m Queen Elizabeth.
Hyundai North America distances itself
Hyundai North America is distancing itself from its European counterparts with this statement:
We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate UK video featuring a Hyundai. Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.
The ad’s been removed in a few places, but what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet, and it’s still available on many sites, including this one. And after this one’s removed, it’ll pop up somewhere else. Because that’s how the Internet works. UPDATE: The video keeps being taken down in one spot, only to appear in another. It is not going to disappear. Here’s the latest version. I’ll keep finding them because people need to keep seeing how disgusting this video is.)
Holly Brockwell has a beautifully written post about how seeing the ad made her feel. Her father succeeded at committing suicide by car.
“I understand better than most people the need to do something newsworthy, something talkable, even something outrageous to get those all-important viewing figures. What I don’t understand is why a group of strangers have just brought me to tears in order to sell me a car. Why I had to be reminded of the awful moment I knew I’d never see my dad again, and the moments since that he hasn’t been there. That birthday party. Results day. Graduation.”
My dad’s suicide
I lost my father to a similar suicide when I was 2 1/2. I don’t know if he left a note.
Seeing that ad makes me feel like I just got hit in the heart. I’m sure tens of thousands of other children left behind by suicide share that feeling.
I cannot begin to fathom what was going on in the heads of the people at Hyundai and its agency.
But I sincerely hope that the next time they sit down to brainstorm, they’ll think about how their words and images might affect other people. And I hope that everyone who communicates with the public will do the same. Please.
Bonus link: Engage the viewer..when you’re already married
– PepsiCo pulls Mountain Dew ad deemed racist and misogynistic Syracuse University professor Boyce Watkins called the ad “arguably the most racist commercial in history.”