How Car Makers Routinely Use Suicide as a Selling Point
In the advertising world, there are always those never-failing concepts that audiences love, such as dancing babies and non-imposing black men talking directly to the camera. These things may not be new, but they're safe, which is good when you just want to get your product out there.
Recently, however, Hyundai decided to think outside of the box -- or so they thought -- with a new "edgy" commercial designed to show not only the clean water emissions of their new vehicle, but also that suicide is kind of funny.
Did you watch it, or just see a message from YouTube saying they pulled it? You can watch it here as well, or ... fuck it, we'll just tell you what happens.
We open on your average suburban house -- the kind of place only market testing can dream up. So far we're off to a decent start.
"Fuck stunt drivers. This is how you sell cars."
OK. A man is in his garage trying to kill himself with the exhaust of his car. It's slightly less relatable than our first shot, especially considering that anyone who's "totally been there" probably isn't watching television anymore. But hey, for all we know, this is an anti-suicide PSA, so let's keep watching ...
This is an anti-suicide PSA, right? We watch as the man stares forlornly at the cluttered shelves across from his final moment in life. It's almost as if this assortment of various forgotten items represents his own inner turmoil, like he himself is one of these half-empty containers shelved away in the darkness. This is the last thing he will ever see. Hilarious.
"My only regret ... is not starting and then abandoning more projects."
He shuts his eyes one final time, embracing death.
Wah, wah, waaaaaah.
Hey, shithead crybaby! Buy a Hyundai!
Yeah, you just saw that.
While we all have varying opinions in terms of what is and is not OK to make fun of, we can all probably agree that as far as commercials go, this is by far the worst thing ever.
Just going by demographics alone, "suicide-proof" literally appeals to no single individual; either they weren't going to off themselves in the first place, or they were and now they aren't going to buy your shitty anti-death vehicle. Not to mention that they just alienated anybody whose life has been at some point affected by the suicide of a loved one. Nice going.
"Damn you, Volvo. Damn you to hell."
Obviously, the ad was pulled pretty quickly, but our story doesn't end here. In fact, it's only just beginning. It turns out that "the car that won't let you kill yourself" isn't actually thinking outside the box at all, but rather a strategy that's been used in the past. Three more times.
While one of them was only a spec ad, so far Citroen, Audi, and Nissan have tried to hatch this terrible golden egg of advertising.
Not only is the idea terrible, but each ad portrays it in the exact same way: A single dude sits solemnly in his car pushing exhaust, only to end up cursing his vehicle's clean emissions for letting him live. It's the Charlie Brown of suicide attempts, basically -- and evidently these agencies think it's the cleverest thing in the world.
You can kind of see the meeting: "Guys, it's win-win! We're going green in our message and showing off the leather interior and automatic windows at the same time! Not to mention that we're telling everyone about how our car will save their miserable life!"
"Nothing builds brand loyalty like thwarted suicide."
And then everyone went with it. They all nodded their heads, wrote up a script, paid for a location and actors, got a director, shot the footage, edited it together, added their logo, and fucking broadcasted it. That's what happened, all without a single person stopping and asking if maybe suicide isn't the best hook for a product.
It's as if Hyundai was willfully trying to harm itself by releasing this ad, which is more than a little ironic.