Hyundai pulls viral zero emission car ad featuring man attempting suicide

Daughter of man who killed himself in a car 'left feeling sick and empty' on viewing video

Social Affairs Correspondent

A car advert which features a man attempting suicide in his garage before being thwarted by a zero emission engine has been pulled after prompting fierce criticism.

The viral campaign for Hyundai, which was posted online last week, includes a graphic depiction of a man trying to end his life. The South Korean car company pulled the advert this afternoon after an advertising creative whose own father committed suicide in the same way launched a  passionate online attack on it.

Holly Brockwell, a freelance advertising creative from London, today posted an open letter to Hyundai and their advertising agency, Innocean on her blog. It has already been read 50,000 times.

It says: "As an advertising creative, I would like to congratulate you on achieving the visceral reaction we all hope for. On prompting me to share it on my Twitter page and my blog. I would not like to congratulate you on making me cry for my dad."

She continued: "When your ad started to play... I began to shake. I shook so hard that I had to put down my drink before I spilt it. And then I started to cry."

She said the advert had left her feeling sick and empty, adding: "I understand better than most people the need to do something newsworthy, something talkable, even something outrageous to get those all-important viewing figures. What I don't understand is why a group of strangers have just brought me to tears in order to sell me a car. Why I had to be reminded of the awful moment I knew I'd never see my dad again, and the moments since that he hasn't been there. That birthday party. Results day. Graduation."

Ms Brockwell told The Independent: "It's worse because I work in the advertising industry and I know the pressure to get a good response, but that's not the way to do it."

The Guardian has also come under fire after it picked the video as one of the 'best adverts of the week' in a column. The text has now been changed, but it originally said: "In order to demonstrate the benign nature of the advertised vehicle's emissions, we find out what happens when a desperate man feeds his exhaust pipe into the car in a bid to end his life. Mind you, as he trudges back to his house to continue his meaningless existence, it doesn't seem likely that the car has saved his life for very long - unless, of course, his suicide attempt was prompted by despair about global warming."

Guardian writers were among those who criticised the paper's choice. Ben Goldacre tweeted: "@hyundai suicide advert is almost surreally irresponsible...Why do the Guardian praise it?

Innocean was unavailable for comment at the time of writing, but a Hyundai spokeswoman said: "Hyundai understands that the video has caused offence. We apologize unreservedly. The video has been taken down and will not be used in any of our advertising or marketing."

A Guardian News & Media spokeswoman said: "The Guardian's weekly 'Ad break' section takes a look at the latest new ads from around the world. However, it was inappropriate to include the Hyundai 'Pipe Job' advert in this round-up and it has now been removed from our website."

*If any of the content of this story affects you, the Samaritans are available to talk 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk