A still frame of the Hyundai advertisement, for which the car maker has apologized.
South Korean car maker Hyundai apologized Thursday for a U.K. advertisement that depicts a man trying to commit suicide in his garage but failing because of his zero-emission car.
The ad, apparently designed for circulation on the Internet, was created by advertising agency Innocean and came to attention when it was featured in a review in the media section of The Guardian newspaper.
It shows an actor playing a man, intent on ending his life, starting his car in a closed garage – a common method of suicide in which death is caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from exhaust fumes.
The next scene shows the man opening the garage door followed by the tagline: "The new iX35 with 100% water emissions."
The company said it had withdrawn the commercial, although clips of it were still available on YouTube [readers may find the video disturbing].
Ian Tonkin, a UK public relations manager with the Hyundai – the world’s fifth-largest car maker – issued a statement that said: "Hyundai understands that the video has caused offence. We apologize unreservedly. The video has been taken down and will not be used in any of our advertising or marketing."
A woman who answered the telephone at Innocean's U.K. office said the company did not have any comment to make.
Holly Brockwell, an advertising industry worker whose father took his life when she was young, posted an emotional open letter to Hyundai and Innocean on her blog, Copyblot.
"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.
My dad never drove a Hyundai. Thanks to you, neither will I."
The evidence shows that this vile Hyundai suicide advert can put lives at risk. bit.ly/11UifVt— ben goldacre (@bengoldacre) April 25, 2013
Science journalist Ben Goldacre described the advertisement as “almost surreally misguided.”
It was not immediately clear how widely the ad, which has the title “Pipe Job," was ever circulated by Hyundai.