An Open Letter to Hyundai

Slate's Culture Blog
April 25 2013 5:01 PM

An Open Letter to Hyundai

This piece originally appeared on the author's blog, Copybot. The ad described and embedded below has now been pulled.

Dear Hyundai and your advertising agency, Innocean,

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This is my dad.

hyundai suicide dad

His name is Geoff. He married my mum in the eighties and had two little girls, by all accounts the loves of his life.

This is the note he left when he committed suicide in his car:

hyundai suicide letter

And this is your new ad.

As an advertising creative, I would like to congratulate you on achieving the visceral reaction we all hope for. On prompting me to share it on my Twitter page and my blog. I would not like to congratulate you on making me cry for my dad.

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.

I understand better than most people the need to do something newsworthy, something talkable, even something outrageous to get those all-important viewing figures. What I don’t understand is why a group of strangers have just brought me to tears in order to sell me a car. Why I had to be reminded of the awful moment I knew I’d never see my dad again, and the moments since that he hasn’t been there. That birthday party. Results day. Graduation.

I’ve worked on automotive accounts. I actually worked on Honda for the best part of a year. And strangely, not once did it seem that the best way—the most intelligent way, the most creative way—to advertise their products to people was to remind them of the horrendous event that is suicide. Strangely enough, I could—and still can—think of a thousand more interesting, creative ideas that wouldn’t have left me feeling like I’ve just lost my dad all over again.

So I’d like to ask that next time you want to tell the world about a new innovation in car design, you think about it for a little bit longer. Think about me. Think about my dad. And the thousands of other suicide victims and the families they left behind.

My dad never drove a Hyundai. Thanks to you, neither will I.

Yours,

Holly Brockwell.