The Worst Commercial in the World: Hyundai’s Thwarted Suicide Ad

Posted on April 25, 2013 by

Any Mad Men fan would tell you that good advertising stirs the emotion. But South Korean car company Hyundai hit the wrong note when it decided to give this suicide-themed commercial the green light.

The ad (intended for its European market) depicts a man trying to commit suicide by attempting to fill his car with exhaust fumes. However, his attempts were thwarted because of Hyundai’s clean emission technology.

While they got the viral reaction they were looking for, the car company was also met with negative reviews. One copywriter, Holly Brockwell, even penned an open letter to the car company, which included the following passage:

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.

Hyundai has since pulled the ad. “Hyundai understands that the video has caused offence. We apologize unreservedly,” a spokewoman for the car company told The Independent. “The video has been taken down and will not be used in any of our advertising or marketing.”

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