Hyundai yanks suicide ad

The ad was meant to be humorous: the victim finds out he is in a zero-emission car

Hyundai has yanked an ad meant to poke humor at attempts to commit suicide in cars.

The viral online campaign featured a man trying to asphyxiate himself from his car’s exhaust. He runs a hose from the car’s tailpipe to the cabin, with the windows taped up. He fails in his attempt . The punchline? He discovers the car is a Hyundai zero-emission vehicle.

Hyundai later issued a statement: “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.” The ad was created by an overseas ad agency, Innocean Europe, and had no connection to Hyundai’s U.S. operations.

Suicide prevention activists expressed relief that the ad has been banished.

“We know from research that graphic depictions of suicide in the media can inadvertently lead to further suicides, a phenomenon known as contagion,” said Robert Gebbia, executive director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “This advertisement was particularly graphic and potentially dangerous. We are pleased that Hyundai has decided to pull this campaign.”

The Independent, an English newspaper, reported that the ad started running last week and that the campaign ended abruptly after an outcry. Indeed, the ad can no longer be found on YouTube. One blogger blistered Hyundai, saying the ad brought back memories of her own father’s death when he gassed himself in his car.

The blogger, Holly Brockwell, who works in advertising in London, wrote that the ad made her cry.