Hyundai Thinks Suicide Should Help Sell Cars: The Pipe Job Ad
Hyundai, the world’s fourth largest automobile manufacturer in the world, apparently believes showing a man trying to kill himself in one of their vehicles is good marketing. The ad, called “Pipe Job” and created by the ad agency Innocean Europe, depicts a man taping a hose from a Hyundai ix35‘s exhaust pipe into the cabin, trying to commit suicide.
It then shows the man sitting in the cabin, waiting to die.
A few frames later, the garage lights come back on, and the man opens the garage door. The tag line is, “The New ix35 with 100% water emissions.”
Yes, very tasteful. Maybe if you were brain and dead and haven’t been alive for the past three decades. Nothing like making fun of people with mental illness, clinical depression, or a disability, is there Hyundai (and Innocean)??
Warning, we’ve included a copy of the video below. Do not continue on if you don’t wish to watch it.
I can imagine some of the other ideas that Hyundai and Innocean are also discussing right now:
- A cancer patient is shown dying in a hospital bed, and asks for one last drink of water. They wheel her out to the ix35’s exhaust pipe and instruct her to drink away.
- Lawn need watering? Just start up the ix35 and continually drive it around the yard, letting the water from the tailpipe drip onto the grass.
- A poor family is shown holding their cupped hands under the ix35’s tailpipe, dying for a drink of water.
Here’s the offensive video. You’ve been warned, so don’t view it if someone you know has died by suicide in this manner:
This ad has particular poignancy for me — and I suspect tens of thousands of other people around the world — as I knew someone who took their life via this method. Rob was my childhood best friend, and one of the primary motivations for me going into public education and advocacy as my career rather than providing individual psychotherapy to patients. He died November 8, 1990, and his death is a memory that I’m reminded of nearly every week as I work on the resources that go to make up this site.
Seeing such a vivid depiction of the end of a man’s life — to sell cars no less — is not just in poor taste. It is thoughtless, and even mean-spirited. As though human life is worth so little, we can demonstrate someone failing at taking their own life to help promote the attributes of this stupid pile of metal. A Hyundai.
Criticism of the Hyundai Video
The Hyundai ad is incomprehensible in an age where we are finally making inroads in the public understanding of mental illness… Of reducing the discrimination and prejudice against those who have one. A depiction of suicide in the media — even when reporting on a news item — can up the rate of suicides temporarily, referred to as suicide contagion. Did the ad agency who produced this ad even know that? Did they care?
Does it make a point? If one can get past the gruesome darkness of the ad, I suppose the point that you can’t kill yourself in this particular Hyundai is noted. But really? Out of all the options you have to demonstrate a car’s eco-friendliness, this is the one you go with?
Hyundai North America is distancing itself from its European counterparts with this statement:
We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate UK video featuring a Hyundai. Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.
Further criticism and commentary can be found over on this article by Matthew Herper, Update: Hyundai North America Disavows ‘Particularly Graphic And Dangerous’ Car Ad.
I just have to shake my head that this ad got through multiple levels of management review and approval in two different companies. Everybody probably was congratulating themselves on producing an “edgy” or “thought provoking” ad — while trying to sell pieces of steel on wheels.
Grohol, J. (2018). Hyundai Thinks Suicide Should Help Sell Cars: The Pipe Job Ad. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 4, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/hyundai-thinks-suicide-should-help-sell-cars-the-pipe-job-ad/