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Hyundai pulls ad that plays suicide for laughs

Photo provided by mgn online
Friday, April 26, 2013 - 6:00am

Korean automaker, Hyundai, has apologized for an advertisement that featured a man attempting to commit suicide with exhaust fumes from one of its SUVs.

The ill-conceived punch-line was that the SUV, an iX35, runs on hydrogen and, therefore, emits only water vapor, so the man can't kill himself.

The ad was created by Hyundai's European advertising agency Innocean Europe, according to a spokesman for Hyundai Motor America, the brand's U.S. arm.

"We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate UK video featuring a Hyundai," Hyundai Motor America said in the statement. "Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment."

Hyundai Motor Europe put out its own separate statement about the ad.

"We understand that some people may have found the iX35 video offensive," Hyundai Motor Europe said in its own statement. "We are very sorry if we have offended anyone. We have taken the video down and have no intention of using it in any of our advertising or marketing."

It was not immediately clear where the ad had originally appeared. "To the best of my knowledge it was never on any Hyundai Web site or Hyundai YouTube outlet," Hyundai Motor America spokesman Chris Hosford said in an email.

No one at Hyundai Motor Europe or Innocean Europe was immediately available for further comment.

Holly Brockwell, who describes herself as an advertising copy writer and blogger, wrote about the ad in her blog CopyBot. In the post Brockwell wrote that her own father had killed himself in the manner portrayed in the video.

"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," she wrote.

Brockwell said in an email that she first saw the ad when a colleague posted it on Twitter. She had no idea what the ad was actually about, she said, until she saw it.

"The ad doesn't offend me - it saddens me," she said.

The iX35 is a crossover SUV sold in the U.S. as the Hyundai Tucson. Hyundai recently announced plans to produce 1,000 iX35 SUVs powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen gas with oxygen from the air in a process that produces electricity and water vapor.

Ford Motor Co. recently faced its own advertising scandal over cartoons that depicted women tied up in the back of a Ford car sold in India. The drawings were prepared as part of a creative exercise for an ad competition, according to WPP, the agency that created them. Ford apologized for the drawings. 

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