This banned Hyundai commercial was created by a European advertising agency. American Ford did not approve it for use and it was not intended to be shown on air. Since it leaked on the internet, it has created a huge controversy.
The commercial lets viewers be voyeurs during a man’s attempt at suicide. This topic alone makes Americans uncomfortable, and being present during the act ups the discomfort. However, I believe that humor and wit outweigh the heavy theme. The ad actually focuses on the environmentally friendly side of Hyundai car. The man isn’t able to commit suicide because the car doesn’t produce carbon monoxide fumes. After the man gives up his suicide attempt, he opens the garage and white text appears, which reads “The new ix35 with 100& water emissions.”
I think the suicide-themed Hyundai commercial is justified to air without censorship. Before I viewed it, the way I heard it described sounded comical and brilliant. After watching the ad, the dark, serious cinematography did strike a slight nerve. However, I still believe it is highly effective at demonstrating the environmental benefits of the new Hyundai car. It is clear that the commercial is European, given the overall theme and the right-side steering wheel. According to USA Today, “Hyundai issued a 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.”
The ad was created by an overseas ad agency, Innocean Europe, and had no connection to Hyundai’s U.S. operations. Suicide prevention activists expressed relief that the ad has been banished. Robert Gebbia, executive director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said “We know from research that graphic depictions of suicide in the media can inadvertently lead to further suicides, a phenomenon known as contagion. This advertisement was particularly graphic and potentially dangerous. We are pleased that Hyundai has decided to pull this campaign.” Although I can see where suicide prevention benefits from banning this commercial, I am disappointed that Americans decided it crossed the line. Perhaps if Americans didn’t see taboo topics with such fear, they wouldn’t be so shocking in the first place.
In this day and age, marketing is everywhere, from logos on water bottles to advertisements on blog pages. Consumers are beginning to become numb to these advertising efforts, and standard marketing tactics are moving toward obsolescence. Because of this shift in the marketing industry, commercials that highlight brands rather than products are increasing in popularity.
Modern consumers want to showcase their individuality and celebrate their ability to express themselves through social media platforms. Advertisements and marketing campaigns that build upon this idea are particularly effective. To reflect this, Apple recently revamped commercial from 1997 in memorial of Steve Jobs. The commercial features black and white footage of rebellious icons such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pablo Picasso, and John Lennon. Richard Dreyfuss narrates:
“Here’s to the crazy ones: the misfits; the rebels; troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
The advertisement does not mention any Apple products or comparisons to other brands. There is little indication of the brand behind the commercial at all. At the end of the ad, “Think different” appears in writing, and Apple’s rainbow logo silently appears above the text before the commercial fades to black. This subtle indication of the brand behind the message is powerful because it shows consumers the mindset behind the brand.
The Steve Jobs version of the Think Different commercial is virtually the same as the original. This commercial never aired on television, but it was made available online after the death of the CEO. These commercials cover a wide demographic, which encompasses ages 7 and up. The ad tells a compelling story, which is relevant to every individual. The target market is not exclusive to tech-savvy people, because it communicates Apple’s brand mentality rather than focusing on products. Apple is extremely clear about how the corporation wants to be perceived by customers. This commercial shows consumers that the brand is relatable, accepting, rebellious, and full of vitality. The ad communicates that the brand is a cut above competitors because it recognizes the importance of individual differences.
In 2012, DIRECTV aired a commercial that focuses on how the brand will change your life. It depicts a scenario in which a man’s young daughter becomes angered by cable television and leads to a rebellious attitude throughout her life. A montage follows, which shows the father disapproving of her life decisions. Her rebellion carries into motherhood, and she dresses her son in a spiked collar. The commercial ends with the narration “Don’t have a grandson with a dog collar. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DIRECTV.” This advertisement represents a comical narrative by synthesizing seemingly unrelated concepts of adolescent rebellion and television providers. By synthesizing these concepts, it tells an amusing story which sticks with viewers. It is particularly effective because it follows the traditional format of a narrative joke with a final punchline. This structure encourages the audience to share the commercial through word-of-mouth.
This Dirt Devil advertisement reflects divergence through originality and elaboration. The television commercial is highly original because it leads viewers to think it is a horror film trailer. It begins with low lighting, and follows two concerned religious figures in an old house during a thunderstorm. They arrive at a young girl’s bedroom. She is screaming and thrashing about on the ceiling, appearing to be demonized. Slowly, the screen splits to reveal an elderly woman vacuuming one floor above the bedroom. Viewers see that incredible suction from Dirt Devil vacuum is causing the the girl to defy gravity. This commercial follows fear and suspense with humor. Combined with originality, elaboration makes this commercial effective by revealing unexpected details that make the commercial relevant and cohesive.
Best Buy’s Super Bowl advertisement featured comedian Amy Poehler. She makes light of the newest innovations in consumer technology by asking a Best Buy salesperson numerous questions about different products. This commercial stood out to me because she is one of my favorite comedians, and the title of the ad, “Asking Amy,” is a humorous play on words. The awkward moment when she asks the salesperson if her e-reader will read 50 Shades of Grey to her in a sexy voice is made even funnier when she asks the salesperson if he will do so. This commercial is successful because it uses a comical scenario and celebrity status to sell products without directly promoting specific brands.