Male suicide is funny! Marketing gone wrong

Hyundai once said male suicide is funny.  No really, they did.

For those of you who have not seen the ad, a minute is dedicated to a sad looking man running a hose from his car tailpipe to his cab and trying to go to sleep while the emissions flow onto his face. The ad then cuts to a shot of the garage from the outside, where the man opens the garage door and the following text appears on screen:

“The new ix35 with 100% water emissions”

This was supposed to be a joke. Are you laughing?

This ad serves as an example of systemic misandry because it was approved by a marketing agency that would never consider the same ad with a woman in place of the solemn senior. Now, Hyundai removed the ad with their apologies.

Thank you for the apology Hyundai, but you are merely a symptom of the disease.

Kindly look to the comments of the linked story above. They hover around defense of free speech and positive evaluations of the ad. Look at these sick contributions, for example:

  • Quote: I’ve been in broadcast marketing for 25 years. Basically, this is a good ad. If they had put a positive spin on the end with the guy realizing how blessed he was and being glad the the auto manufacture gave him a second chance….it would have been effective.

Hear that, gents? If your granddad was filmed shooting himself with a chocolate gun, his perceived idiocy can be used as a path to brand loyalty!

  • Quote: Grow some skin? People today are offended at everything, I am tired of these thin skinned tyrants making a huge deal out of every little thing.
  • Quote: I see nothing wrong… People are too sensitive. It’s a joke, get over it.

Just so we are clear, you can tell me any offensive joke in the world, and I might laugh. I have heard racist jokes, sexist jokes, Holocaust jokes and worse, and I have laughed at examples of each. Why? Because I can tell they are jokes, they are not serious, and I can tell the joker is not serious either. Hell, I’m sure you could also tell me a joke about suicide and get laughs. I just need to know that the joke is actually a joke, otherwise I will know it is a genuine expression of hatred. I would never laugh at a racist joke told by a Klan member, or a sexist joke told by a living, breathing misogynist or misandrist. Because I know their mouths speak not jokes, but apologetic expressions of horrendous ideologies.

So, I don’t care if people say whatever they want. That’s not the issue, so no calls of censorship will ever leave my throat. I will, however, talk back.

The Hyundai ad paints a sinister picture, since it is used for the ultimate goal of profit, and a marketing agency’s job is to make ads based on an understanding of the culture it’s talking to. What is so offensive is that they assumed male suicide was not a “hot button” issue, and was therefore an asset. Hyundai tried to profit from this assumption, and people who liked the ad still stand in support today!

So should you be offended? Absolutely, especially if you have a loved one who passed on by his own hand. Comedy should be used a tool to lighten moods and brighten days, not as a tool to marginalize others. People pretend that this distinction is purely subjective, but it isn’t. Who says what is a joke, and what isn’t? Here’s how you can tell:

Does the person or agency telling the joke genuinely believe the hateful statements being said? If the answer is “yes,” then he isn’t actually joking.

The Hyundai ad in isolation is not offensive. It’s the fact that the ad is culturally approved. Hyundai spoke to a culture, and in order for this nightmare of an ad to get past the filter of risk management, they had to feel that we would approve of it. This ad aired because people thought the concept of male suicide alone was funny, joke or no joke. Male suicide is a source of comedy, as opposed to a potential topic for your politically incorrect barmate to twist in the name of good fun.

So, Hyundai should not take all the blame. It was merely a puppet to market forces. But when UK copywriter Holly Brockwell wrote an open letter to both Hyundai and their marketing agency Innocean on her blog, only then did things go south for Hyundai. I wonder if the ad would have even been taken down if she had not written that post. I would go so far as to say that if no woman cried as a result of this ad, nothing would have be done about it.

So, Hyundai and Innocean are rightfully ashamed, but our culture is not. The same people who defend this ad are the same people who would carry torches and pitchforks if the man in this video was actually a woman. The real crime here is blatant misandry, and the fact that a large budget was allocated to a quality production of male suicide for comedic purposes churns my stomach.

I don’t care what reckless punks have to say about comedy: This ad was not a joke. It was an expression of culture. Our culture. The same culture that looks at itself and this ad and somehow thinks its a better idea to talk about an imaginary “rape” culture.

If you needed any proof of how fucked up the zeitgeist is, look no farther than the concept of your father jumping off a cliff being witnessed for someone else’s enjoyment and profit.

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