Hyundai has a bad day at the office

26 Apr

This is a story about two very bad decisions, and the Korean car manufacturer can own both of them.

It recently ran this TV commercial in the UK, which shows a man failing to commit suicide in his own car because the fumes are hydrogen-derived and therefore not deadly.


There was significant public protest, not unexpectedly. Suicide may sound kinda cool the way the agency sells it, but in the end, it’s still suicide.

Who’s going to wrap their arms around a straight-faced gag about a person trying to kill himself? I think that’s the essential question that wasn’t asked.

The public? This wasn’t a Public Service Announcement for a suicide helpline. It was selling a car. I don’t think there will be many yuk-yuks from the audience.

The creators? Maybe, the publicity might be good, although they must be hearing plenty of criticism in with the pats on the back – so it’s not an easy win, if that’s how they view it. “Darkly droll” is the best I can come up with.

Hyundai? Ha. On the contrary, the company has thrown the ad agency under the bus.

This quote from the source article.

Hyundai Motor said the ad was created by an affiliate advertising agency, Innocean Europe, without Hyundai’s request or approval. “It runs counter to our values as a company and as members of the community. We are very sorry for any offense or distress the video caused,” the company said.

They deny any knowledge of it. It runs counter to their values.

Those would be the values demonstrated by suggesting the ad agency created it, and smuggled it on air. No one at Hyundai knew? I wonder who paid for the commercial shoot.

And where’s the bit about “We are suing the ad agency for this criminal behaviour!”?

Being naked about your corporate values is good. But you want to be careful about what you stick in the public’s face.

I’d usually condemn any agency that did work with a high likelihood of damaging its client’s business.

In this case, I think Hyundai got the advertising it deserved.


9 Responses to “Hyundai has a bad day at the office”

  1. db April 26, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Doesn’t Hyundai OWN Innocean? Like doesn’t that ‘agency’ only exist to do Hyundai business?

    • Doug Brown April 26, 2013 at 10:02 am #

      Their website doesn’t say.
      Their English site has Turkish Airlines as a client too, among others.

  2. Elizabeth April 26, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    I used to work at Innocean Canada. Hyundai does own all the Innocean’s of the world. The Canadian arm only works on Hyundai and Kia but other Innocean’s (like the one in California) has several other accounts unrelated to Hyundai.

    • Doug Brown April 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Thanks for the intel there Elizabeth. Makes their comment that no one at Hyundai requested or approved it all the more ridiculous!

  3. Clare April 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Hi Doug, I’m not sure if this actually aired on TV in the UK but was definitely on YouTube. If it did air then it was definitely backed by Hyundai but I would be surprised if Clearcast would have approved it for TV.

  4. Clare April 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    Ah ha – I also hunted around. It’s causing quite the debate in the UK industry.

  5. David Olsen July 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

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