hyundai ad

As much as we might bemoan their very existence when they interrupt our favourite TV shows or appear ad nauseam prior to YouTube clips, when done well ads can be genuinely entertaining. With each shot written, debated, edited and otherwise laboured over sometimes for hundreds of hours, successful ads become pop culture in their own right and are often of higher quality than the shows whose commercial crevices they are stuffed into.

An ad recently aired in the UK, however, become a talking point for all the wrong reasons when it depicted a man trying to kill himself by breathing in the exhaust fumes produced by what transpires to be a particularly environmentally friendly type of vehicle: Hyundai’s iX35.

In the ad for its new car, the Korean automobile manufacturer shows a middle-aged man attempting to commit suicide by connecting a length of hose to his car’s exhaust and, with the other end of the pipe lodged in the passenger window, switching the engine on while parked inside a closed garage. After hearing the sounds of duct-tape being fastened to the hose pipe and the engine running, we watch as the forlorn-looking man sits in the driver’s seat inhaling the fumes and waiting to die.

hyundai ad pipe into car

The 60-second commercial culminates with the same man emerging from his garage completely unharmed, trudging across our screens and back into his home as we learn via an on-screen message that the iX35’s emissions are, in fact, 100 percent water. The man goes on to, perhaps, live another day.

hyundai ad 100 percent water emissions

The best ads are often surprising, even shocking, but few are remembered fondly when they make light of such things as suicide or self harm. Despite ending well (in the sense that the male character did not manage to end his life on this occasion), the ad was considered distasteful and disturbing by many viewers, least not those whose lives have been touched by suicide in some way.

On her personal blog, London-based copywriter Holly Brockwell responded to the Hyundai ad with a heartfelt letter, describing how the ad brought memories of her own father’s suicide flooding back.

“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.

When your ad started to play, and I saw the beautifully-shot scenes of taped-up car windows with exhaust feeding in, I began to shake. I shook so hard that I had to put down my drink before I spilt it. And then I started to cry. I remembered looking out of the window to see the police and ambulance, wondering what was happening. I remember mum sitting me down to explain that daddy had gone to sleep and would not be waking up, and no, he wouldn’t be able to take me to my friend’s birthday party next week. No, he couldn’t come back from heaven just for that day, but he would like to if he could. I remember finding out that he had died holding my sister’s soft toy rabbit in his lap.

Surprisingly, when I reached the conclusion of your video, where we see that the man has in fact not died thanks to Hyundai’s clean emissions, I did not stop crying. I did not suddenly feel that my tears were justified by your amusing message. I just felt empty. And sick. And I wanted my dad.” 

The video, titled “Pipe Job”, has since been removed from many YouTube channels on Hyundai or its advertising agency Innocean’s request. Although we cannot guarantee that it will remain visible for long, those of you who would like to see the offending material for yourselves can do so here. UPDATE: The video has since been removed, sorry guys.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News Copybot (Holly Brockwell”s personal blog)

Video/caps: YouTube