Hyundai Tries, And Fails, To Make Its Awful Suicide Ad Disappear From The Internet

from the does-streisand-drive-a-hyundai dept

It’s been a bad few weeks for some big brand advertisers, as a slew of offensive commercials had to be pulled and disowned by the likes of Pepsi, GM and Hyundai. In the case of Hyundai, the company apologized for an ad that showed off its new “pure water emissions” SUV by showing a guy try to commit suicide by running the car in his garage, only to discover that the lack of carbon monoxide emissions made that attempt a failure. Yes. Pretty insensitive. The ad agency, Innocean Europe — which happens to be owned by Hyundai’s chairman and his daughter — also apologized, saying “the intention of the viral ad was to employ hyperbole to dramatise a product advantage, culminating in a positive outcome. Clearly, we were mistaken, and we sincerely apologise.”

However, rather than just apologize for the ad and pull down the official version, some quickly noticed that Hyundai and/or Innocean went all out claiming trademark violations against every copy posted on YouTube:

Of course, in true Streisand Effect manner, that just resulted in more people uploading it:
And, of course, the video is now available from other sources as well, such as below:
Yes, I can understand why they would make the effort, in an attempt to show that they really, really are sorry and don’t want this ad online, but of course once “the story” takes over, a lot more people are interested in seeing the video. And, try as you might, you can’t make online content completely disappear.

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Companies: hyundai

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Comments on “Hyundai Tries, And Fails, To Make Its Awful Suicide Ad Disappear From The Internet”

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34 Comments
Nigel (profile) says:

“the intention of the viral ad was to employ hyperbole to dramatise a product advantage, culminating in a positive outcome.

That is pretty eloquent way to say they don’t know shit about marketing.

Its not edgy, makes no statement, where is the “truth”?…. will stop there I could go on for a week.

I frankly can’t believe how bad advertising has been, for decades. George Lois still rules the day!

Nigel

Bob Buttons says:

It’s actually a pretty smart decision on their part. They look better actively taking it down by making them appear “that they really, really are sorry” as you put it, while at the same time drawing more and more attention to their brand. It may or may not have been intentional but saving face with the perk of increased attention to your brand can’t be a bad thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, it’s win/win for them. I don’t think people will start boycotting them en mass anyway. They’ll just do more apologizing and the media will start showing it with a “we’ll let you decide” justification to get more views.

I also have to wonder how many people will not find it offensive, or even funny? Also if this was a scene in a film or movie where he did die… or even with the same outcome would people be as upset? I doubt it. I suppose it’s just because it was done to sell a product that it is offensive. Though TV and movie productions are generally made for profit and not necessarily “high art” these days. At least not the stuff you see on TV or in mainstream theaters.

What if this was a comedy show skit and the clip lasted 8 seconds longer. Enough time for us to see him walk inside, a brief pause so we can think about it now that it’s over and then… BANG and a flash as we realize he resorted to shooting himself? We expect shows like that to be edgy.

We all have varying tastes and I believe that using this scene for direct advertising is culturally considered the most offensive presentation. Well, maybe second worst… if it was a hidden camera video that was re-appropriated that would be the worst.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s actually a pretty smart decision on their part. They look better actively taking it down by making them appear “that they really, really are sorry” as you put it, while at the same time drawing more and more attention to their brand. It may or may not have been intentional but saving face with the perk of increased attention to your brand can’t be a bad thing.

You’ve got a very good point. Not only do they look responsive by taking it down, they also get all the attention they may have wanted in the first place.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I found this be enlightening, too. What I am quoting is a comment to the article I have linked to rather than from the article itself (which is worth reading, too).

Of Course Hyundai Knew That Suicide Ad Was Offensive! | DigitalNext: A Blog on Emerging Media and Technology – Advertising Age: “The ads were created to enter in award shows to bolster the agencies’ ranking in the Gunn Report, so that the senior execs can claim their bonuses and their five-star trips to Cannes. The fact that this is the kind of garbage (1) fake; 2) offensive to 95% of the “real world”) shows how far this industry has strayed from the idea of helping sell things to people. And we wonder why our margins are continually getting squeezed and CMOs don’t listen to us anymore.”
Brenda Kilgour Montr?al

horse with no name says:

Re: Re: Re:

It is one of the things that is often missed here. When the ‘effect’ of such a take down is well known, it should always be considered that companies are using it to their benefit. Hyundai looks sensitive for taking it down, and gets even more press for their message as they ‘fight’ to get it taken down.

I wonder if all these people reposting it feel used?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s terrible advertising. You buy a car you should be excited. The excitement of buying the car should overcome any other problems in your life, at least according to the car manufacturer and their advertisement. Yet here is this guy buying a Hyundai and now he wants to commit suicide. Was it too expensive? Did the car have problems? Was the car not impressive enough to make his life good enough? Whatever it was, I suspect part of the reason Hyundai took it down was partly because they realized that mixing a suicidal person with their car offer is a bad idea because their car offer is supposed to be about making your life better to the point where suicide won’t even be a thought.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

1.) Where does your first point come from? Why should blowing 20,000 dollars and shackling yourself to abusive insurance payments and feul costs make you excited?

2.) No… there isn’t something you should buy to overcome any other problems in your life. Mortgage payments, work and other issues don’t vanish because you have a shiny new car.

3.) Jumping off a building mean you can’t handle your new flatmates, or was it just the most convenient means you could think of? The car hardly has to be the REASON they are committing suicide.

4.)Technically, your last point happens. The car is ‘so good’ the guy winds up not actually going through with it. Hey! Hyundai just saved someone! to showcase a unique feature, and demonstrated the effectiveness of that feature, something more ads NEED TO DO.

There are alot of ads I wish would never be run. This is NOT one of them. In my opinion, we need fewer ‘people running happily through parks, sitting with their children, now buy a drug you’ve never heard of and will probably be embarassed when you ask your doctor about’ and more ads that, you know, SHOW OFF THE PRODUCT.

Are there better ways it could have been shown? Sure. Is it the worst ad I’ve ever seen? Pah. Not even top 100.

Jeez people are sensitive…

Also, before anyone plays this card, yes. I’ve known people who have committed suicide. Yes I’ve contemplated it in the past. I’m just not lashing out at every reminder of it I encounter in my life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“1.) Where does your first point come from? Why should blowing 20,000 dollars and shackling yourself to abusive insurance payments and feul costs make you excited?”

Commercials aren’t reality they’re puffery. Pretty much every commercial acts like the advertised product will solve all your problems.

“In my opinion, we need fewer ‘people running happily through parks, sitting with their children, now buy a drug you’ve never heard of and will probably be embarassed when you ask your doctor about’ and more ads that, you know, SHOW OFF THE PRODUCT.”

Good point. Most commercials are way too fictitious and it does get obnoxious.

jameshogg says:

It’s probably more accurate to say that once any media, such as a photograph, audio recording or movie, captures a moment and it leaves your private sphere into the public sphere, it will probably hit the internet sometime soon and you will not be able to take it off.

We need to emphasise a culture that recognises the importance of private and public spheres. Every time we upload something to the internet, we must assume that it is going to stay there as long as the internet exists. And every time we take a photograph of something WITHOUT uploading, we must guard it within the realms of our own privacy on the assumption that once it leaves our hands, it will be on the internet as long as the internet exists.

I go through this mentality every time I even type a comment, now. You have to bear in mind that future employers can look up anything you’ve ever said on public internet forums with the right search techniques, as well as future spouses. If you’ve got yourself in a way-too-embarrassing situation on the street (you’ve tripped up hilariously), your first instinct will probably be to look around and make sure noone was filming, in case your moment of failure becomes a viral meme. Even anything you click may be picked up by a site for some kind of metric advertising purpose.

The disturbing thing is that a lot of people will protest heavily against secret malware that’s made it onto their computers and watches everything they do on those computers. Especially if it is a corporation with advertising intents. But if it’s subtle DRM that you aren’t even aware of – not EA’s DRM but the much more dangerous kind of DRM that doesn’t make itself obvious – people are quite ready to throw up their arms and say that being spied on by this stuff is all justified in the name of copyright law, even although there is hardly any evidence that DRM works in the face of a determined pirate (and it just takes one – one pirate – to crack it, and wouldn’t you know, once that cracked version goes on the internet it stays on the internet as long as it exists).

Steam fans don’t seem to mind that Valve has a kill switch to all games they’ve bought from the store. If JManga decides to remove all user’s content as a result of going bust (as some contemptible way of making people pay again to get their stolen stuff back), what is to stop Valve from going down this route too if they go bust?

People can very nastily fall into psychological traps that blur the lines between private and public when on the internet.

But of course, if you are in Hyundai’s position, you’re either being very silly or very clever.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Gotta love the Streisand Effect. I have zero interest in cars and know practically nothing about them. However, eventually, I know I’ll end up getting a car in the future, but thanks to this article, whenever I see a Hyundai, I’ll remember this ad. On a subconscious level, people will start to associate the word Hyundai with suicide, which is not what you want to happen.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Can someone please explain to me what the justification is for using trademark to get Youtube to pull a video? With copyright, only the copyright holder or people they allow have permission to distribute a video…but trademark? Did Hyundai say that this video actually isn’t their own, but made by someone else who misused their name?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Can someone please explain to me what the justification is for using trademark to get Youtube to pull a video?

Because a potential copyright claim is such an obvious loser() that the Hyundai’s attorneys got worried about ?512(f)?

?

() Obvious loser: fair use for purposes of news and commentary.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah, lets make some rather weak rationalizations for their blatant abuse of Trademark.

What’s next. ya gonna tell me it’s ok for Warner to use Nyan Cat without asking? – Welllll .. they just sorta forgot about asking permission and simply used it. It’s not like they get all upset about that happening to them, amirite?

Anonymous Coward says:

The ad may or may not be offensive that will depend on whom you ask, personally I find it amusing, and I also find suicide tragic.

Is not like that ad was condoning suicide or was target to create the need for it, just like the Family Guy cartoon with the censored episode of the character exploding a bridge by mistake after activating a cellphone he found.

And probably the best weapon against suicides may be humor, not for all cases of course.

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