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Posts Tagged ‘Holly Brockwell’

Op-Ed: Commercial Appall

Recognizing mistakes retroactively is easy. After the damage is done, heads roll downhill as people ask, “Who could’ve let this happen?” At times, the criticism can be unfounded. The political correctness machine does not care much for different sides to an offensive story. But sometimes, in cases of extreme public blunders, the story only has one side.

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen two thoughtless content blunders – one from Mountain Dew, the other for Hyundai – that resulted in serious and immediate public backlash. Mountain Dew’s goat spot was developed by rapper Tyler, the Creator, and was quickly pulled by Pepsi Co. after viewers complained of racism and misogyny. As you’ll see in the above ABC News clip, it’s also being referred to as “the most racist commercial ever” for the way it reinforces black stereotypes. The Hyundai spot, which aimed to pull humor and brand equity out of a failed garage suicide attempt, may go down as one of the most insensitive commercials ever. Hyundai reached out to AgencySpy, hoping to distance itself from the bad press about an hour after we published excerpts of a heartfelt blog post from Holly Brockwell, a London-based copywriter whose father died in a similar manner to what was portrayed in the ad.

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London-Based Copywriter Pens Heartfelt/Heartbreaking Open Letter to Innocean, Hyundai (Updated)

Not the best way to end the day, but Holly Brockwell, a London-based digital copywriter’s note to Hyundai and its agency, Innocean, regarding their new ad campaign, had us figuratively chopping onions for a few minutes. If you haven’t seen the campaign, which promotes the automaker’s ix35 in the most awkward of ways, look above (Update: It looks like the videos keep getting taken down, so don’t be surprised if it happens again; We’ll just provide screen grabs if need be. Update 2: And, yes, it’s now been officially pulled by the brand) . Anyhow, the man in the ad survives his attempted suicide thanks to Hyundai’s apparent 100 percent water emissions. Unfortunately, Brockwell’s dad died in the same manner, and after watching the spot, she penned this letter to the brand and agency via her blog. It’s, as mentioned, a heartbreaker and we truly feel for her. Here’s just an excerpt:

“When your ad started to play, and I saw the beautifully-shot scenes of taped-up car windows with exhaust feeding in, 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. I remembered looking out of the window to see the police and ambulance, wondering what was happening. I remember mum sitting me down to explain that daddy had gone to sleep and would not be waking up, and no, he wouldn’t be able to take me to my friend’s birthday party next week. No, he couldn’t come back from heaven just for that day, but he would like to if he could. I remember finding out that he had died holding my sister’s soft toy rabbit in his lap.

Surprisingly, when I reached the conclusion of your video, where we see that the man has in fact not died thanks to Hyundai’s clean emissions, I did not stop crying. I did not suddenly feel that my tears were justified by your amusing message. I just felt empty. And sick. And I wanted my dad.”

Her final note to the parties involved says it all: “My dad never drove a Hyundai. Thanks to you, neither will I.” We obviously can’t blame her. Let’s just see if and when or how agency and/or brand responds.

Updated: Well, that didn’t take long. Barely 90 minutes after this post, Hyundai has offered this to us verbatim:

Hyundai Motor America 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.”

 

Hyundai Motor Company Statement:

“Hyundai Motor deeply and sincerely apologizes for the offensive viral ad.

The ad was created by an affiliate advertising agency, Innocean Europe, without Hyundai’s request or approval. It runs counter to our values as a company and as members of the community. We are very sorry for any offense or distress the video caused. More to the point, Hyundai apologizes to those who have been personally impacted by tragedy.”