If you’re looking for background, Business Insider and the Blaze have got you covered. Hyundai thought it’d be clever to illustrate how clean their fuel-cell vehicle is by showing a guy trying and failing to off himself via the exhaust, even though other car manufacturers have used the same gimmick. A copywriter in Britain whose father killed himself using the same method (with a traditional vehicle) wrote a blog post criticizing the ad; people took notice, pressure built, and Hyundai ended up apologizing and yanking it. Naturally, news of the forbidden commercial began circulating online and now websites in the U.S. are picking it up to rubberneck at a PR trainwreck, which may or may not inadvertently help Hyundai move units. Tasteless though it may be, the spot’s effective. If the goal of advertising is to make the viewer remember one’s product and what makes it unique, mission accomplished.
Consider this an improvement, in fact, over environmental-minded ads of yesteryear. I’m old to enough remember when global-warming activists thought it’d be keen to raise awareness by showing kids getting blown up for failing to reduce their carbon footprint. Now we’ve got depressed people’s lives being saved by the absence of carbon monoxide in their exhaust. Messaging status: Refined.