Tag Archives: Holly Brockwell

When adverts go viral for the wrong reasons

hyundai-advert-screen-captureHyundai ‘Pipe Job’ advert widely criticised

There have many cases of misguided or blatantly wrong marketing campaigns in recent times, especially when it comes to advertisements and social media. Examples include the Ford Figo advert in India or the Haribo Super Mix advert, that either garnered angry comments or were panned across all social networks.

Hyundai is the latest brand to fall victim to a rather poorly thought-out campaign creative, after a video advertisement for their new ix35 model was widely criticised. The reason? The video titled “Pipe Job” features a man (unsuccessfully) attempting to commit suicide by inhaling car exhaust fumes from his ix35. You will no longer find the video on YouTube or other mainstream video streaming sites, as supposed claims of  third party infringements have led to it being taken down.

However, if you feel strong enough and have not had the deeply regrettable impact of suffering from a loved one’s loss by way of suicide, you can click here to find a locally hosted video on a blog post by a specialist in Mental Health, Dr. John Grohol, CEO and founder of Psych Central.

The resulting social media storm is understandable and expected when you’re dealing with a sensitive topic such as a human life. So much so that an open letter by Holly Brockwell, a London-based digital copywriter, aimed at Hyundai and its agency Innocean has been widely circulated (read it here) and adds fuel to the fire of this unfortunate advertisement.

Hyundai Europe has since issued an apology, but the deed is done and the impact of this story will seep though public conscientiousness, wiping out any good sentiment the brand might have had in recent years.

What are the lessons to be learnt? Quite a few:

  1. You may have a good product to market, but the wrong execution and creative will drive away an potential for connecting with consumers, resulting in failure for the brand and the product. GoCompare and Wonga are two examples of brands backtracking on campaign creative that have become a source of irritation for the general public.
  2. Understanding what the campaign creative is meant to make people feel is key to effective communication of brand values. If it’s not funny, not insightful, simply uninteresting or doesn’t add anything positive to the audience’s life then you seriously need to think about going back to the drawing board.
  3. Rethink your strategy so that you and your brand partners effectively know what you plan to achieve with your campaign. Making light of suicide is clearly not the way to go.
  4. Agencies are now outputting more and more content that doesn’t necessarily work in their client’s interests. It’s so easy to push out quantity as opposed to quality, so put in place exacting standards and procedures throughout the planning, creative and sign-off process to avoid disasters.

What are your view on this story? Are brands and agencies becoming more reckless with their marketing efforts? All comments are welcome.

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