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TV car ad ruled offensive by advertising watchdog

13 August 2019

Warning: this story contains references to death that some people may find upsetting

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints that a TV car ad was offensive as it portrayed a method used in suicide attempts.

The advertisement for a Hyundai NEXO depicted an athlete running on a treadmill while breathing air coming directly out of what appeared to be the exhaust pipes of a vehicle.

The ad contained a disclaimer that said: “Filmed under strict controlled conditions. Do not attempt this at home. For more information visit Hyundai.co.nz” and appeared for five seconds of the 30-second advertisement.

The ASA received 34 complaints about the commercial.

One complainant wrote: “Just watched an ad for Hyundai for a new SUV with a man running on a treadmill, he had a face mask on, the camera goes down the tubes connected to the face mask and the tubes are connected to the exhaust of the SUV!!!!. They are advertising the clean air of the car, this is not acceptable, people commit suicide by gassing themselves with cars. Imagine a child sees this and copies it thinking it's ok!! This ad is disgusting and should be removed and not on TV.”

Another wrote: “I find this disturbing as people have committed suicide doing similar with cars. And my 6-year-old daughter asked if this works and can she try it with our car at home. This needs to be taken off air. How many people will try this?!”

The ASA’s complaints board, in upholding the complaints, said the advertisement was likely to cause widespread offence and portrays a situation which could encourage a disregard for safety. It says it presents a well-known method used for committing suicide and suicide is acknowledged as a significant issue in New Zealand society.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019