“Pipe job,” is a shockingly misguided promotional film advertising the Hyundai ix35, showing a middle-aged man sitting in a car with the windows taped up, using a hose connected to the exhaust pipe as part of a suicide attempt. As vapour begins to enter the car, he is seen taking deeper breaths, but when night falls, he gets out of the car. The point of this advert is explained by the tagline at the end: “The ix35 with 100% water emissions.” The man’s suicide attempt has failed because the car is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and therefore only emits water. This has caused widespread public outrage, and rightly so.
Did the creators not research their concept before producing it? If they had, they would have discovered that suicide is the single biggest killer of young men in England and Wales. According to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), in 2011, the combined figures of road-death, murder and HIV/AIDs did not match up to the number of male suicides, of which on average, three occur per day in the UK. A shocking 75% of suicides are male and the number of middle aged men taking their own lives is rising. Mocking someone contemplating taking their own life is the same as mocking a cancer victim in order to sell a product. The reason I believe this advert is mocking suicide and the feelings that could potentially lead up to it, is because there is no call for people feeling this way to seek help. The film isn’t offering anything to anyone; it wasn’t a way of creating more opportunities for men to open up about issues in which the male gender is often overlooked, such as depression – it was a publicity stunt, a way to cause controversy and promote a car.
I don’t work as an advertising creative, but strangely enough, suicide doesn’t strike me as an intelligent or appropriate topic of choice to use in order to sell any product at all. The advert has now been withdrawn but it has to be asked – was this controversy the aim? Or are the creators so insensitive and unaware of what is acceptable and what isn’t, that they completely overlooked the issue?