Hyundai caught up in advertising agency ‘suicide ad’ blunder

Ad depiction of despondent Hyundai owner failing at attempt at suicide.

Ad depiction of despondent Hyundai owner failing at attempt at suicide.

One must wonder what “creative types” had for breakfast when they come up with things like the advertisement former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in a Ford Figo with handcuffed and gagged women in the trunk, or now, an offputing online Hyundai ad that has the Korean carmaker issuing denials and chasing the ad to get it off the internet.

The ad, for distribution in the U.K., portrays a man intent on suicide trying to asphyxiate himself with the exhaust of a fuel cell-equipped Hyundai ix35 (sold in the U.S. as the Tuscon). The intended joke is that a fuel cell converts hydrogen directly into electricity, combining the H2 with O2 with electricity created in the process, and from which the only product is H20…or water. And one can’t suffocate oneself with water vapor, so the ad goes.

The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell is currently on sale for fleet use in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Skane, Sweden, where sufficient hydrogen infrastructure is available. Hyundai plans to produce 1,000 of the fuel cell ix35 by 2015.

Someone said that all humor is based on someone else’s pain, but this seemed particularly egregious to another creative type whose father had killed himself with car exhaust, and she went very public with her protest.

Hyundai, of course, has withdrawn the ad and working with YouTube to remove the video, claiming trademark violation. It’s still to be found on the web however, and if you want to see what all the fuss is about, here’s one place it’s still up.  At least for the moment.

Hyundai’s apology, for something it really didn’t do and didn’t approve, included this statement: “”Hyundai Motor deeply and sincerely apologizes for the offensive viral ad. 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.”

In the meantime, someone should put a leash on their creative. Or perhaps that’s an offensive turn of phrase. If so, we apologize in advance to all the pooches out there.