Hyundai’s “Suicidal” Marketing Crisis

In April of 2013, Hyundai released a commercial known as “Pipe Job” that left many people in the UK confused and shocked. The commercial’s primary goal was to illustrate the car’s new water engine emissions in a humorous way. However, due to this very commercial, Hyundai soon found itself in a potentially “suicidal” PR and marketing crisis.


The ad was written about a topic that should clearly never be joked about and is very personal for many people across the world. The ad shows a man who is attempting suicide through inhaling harmful emissions, but fails due to the company’s new water engine emissions. Obviously, Hyundai released this ad in hopes that their audience would find humor in the failure of his attempt at suicide because of their water engine emissions. The company soon found that the ad produced the opposite effect. One of the main people who caused the uproar regarding this commercial was blogger Holly Brockwell. Holly wrote an emotional post regarding this poor taste in marketing.


Unfortunately for Hyundai, this entire crisis could have been somewhat avoided. While of course it could have been completely avoided by simply never allowing the commercial to air, it could have also been avoided if the company had a crisis management plan implemented. Instead, Hyundai was slow in their apologies and even ignored reporters when they reached out for answers. This lack of communication for those with questions is what ultimately left Hyundai in a PR crisis that was nearly impossible to overcome. While Hyundai finally released apologies and statements, the damage that has been done is immeasurable. In the end, companies must be proactive when dealing with crises that involve their products to have a chance at managing them before they have a chance to become something larger.

-Ryan Nagy