HYUNDAI SUICIDE COMMERCIAL GETS CONSUMER BACKLASH – No matter what business you are in the old adage ‘you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time’ is a very accurate statement.
There is of course one thing that every business does want and that is a piece of marketing that goes viral; quite honestly this is always seen by ad agencies as the ‘holy grail’ the ‘bees knees’ the ‘dogs dangle bits’ of marketing.
If you are not sure what ‘viral marketing’ is then let me explain briefly; quite simply it is about creating a marketing message that will be shared by millions of people throughout the internet. One such success was the Evian Babies who have just released a new advertisement featuring their ‘dancing babies’ and in just under a week it has achieved over 36 million views on YouTube alone – that rocks!
See the Evian Babies:
Like all companies Hyundai provided a brief to its marketing agency to come up with something to promote its new iX35 which, according to the manufacturers produces 100% water emissions and is dubbed one of the most environmentally-friendly cars on the planet.
The brief went a little further as Hyundai wanted a video that people would share – the goal was to seek and find the holy grail of marketing – a viral marketing message.
It’s tough to come up with something viral and in most cases what does go viral on the internet is not by design but rather by pure accident. Like most web owners I would happily have all my teeth extracted and sit in a bowl of jelly if I thought just one thing I wrote would go viral…. Ah but to dream the dream.
So why all the who-ha over Hyundai’s commercial? Well the ad agency thought the best way to get a commercial to go viral was to plump for the ‘shock factor’ and decided on a theme of suicide.
The scene depicts a desperate man who enters his garage and connects a hosepipe to the exhaust of his new iX35 and then places the other end through the window. He then sits in the car and turns on the engine. As it is a well known fact that car emission kills and that many people have taken their own lives using this method, the occupant expects the same result.
The advertisement ends with the man failing to take his own life with the tag line ‘The ix35 with 100 per cent water emissions’.
Hyundai has been forced to remove the advertisement and has issued a public statement apologising for any offense this may have caused. The company spokesman went on to say that this was entirely the fault of the agency and their insensitivity has led to an understandable backlash from consumers, consumer groups and charitable organisations.
“We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate European video featuring a Hyundai. Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.” Hyundai spokesman
The aim of the advertisement was to clearly show the hydrogen fuel cells that Hyundai have developed in order to produce a car that produces nothing but water from its emissions; if the car had produced regular carbon monoxide, as with regular petrol engines, the result would have been different.
WARNING: In the interest of freedom of information I have included the commercial below – please note that you may find this disturbing and upsetting and if you are sensitive then please don’t watch it.
Bad taste or clever marketing? This really depends on which side of the fence you are standing on. Personally I think the advertisement was irresponsible and in bad taste. Was it a clever piece of viral marketing? The answer to that is no; as the idea of viral marketing, while it may be shocking to some degree, is to make it entertaining; something that the ad agency certainly failed at in all aspects.
I did read a few comments that people had left on YouTube and for the most part they displayed their distaste to the advertisement; however a couple of people did point out that whether anyone found this offensive or not is not the point, the point here was to get people talking about it and it going viral and there is no doubt that this is the case.
Would really like your take on the article so feel free to leave your comments below.