Poking Fun at Suicide and Killing Dogs: The Two Worst Ads of 2013

Advertising in 2013 had some strong campaigns and ads. And then there was the bottom of the barrel.

The worst ad of 2013 for me is……a tie.

It was so close, it was impossible to materially distinguish between really awful and truly tasteless. Both of these ads were ones for the ages in both categories. They plumbed the “what the hell were they thinking?” depths.

The Worst Ad of 2013 (Part One) – Hyundai

Hundai greenlighted a television spot in the UK that made light of suicide. A man decides to sit in his car in a closed garage. He connects the exhaust to a hose and pipes the carbon monoxide-laced fumes into the car. But death doesn’t come; only frustration, because his car is a low-emission Hyundai. Yes, that’s right, suicidal people should choose another vehicle; perhaps a non-hybrid Toyota, Ford, or BMW.

AdAge has a good summary of the ad, and its fallout. You can also watch the ad there.

There’s really nothing else to say, is there? Except one; did the following people lose their jobs?

  1. Creative lead for the agency
  2. Marketing lead for Hyundai

The Worst Ad of 2013 (Part Two) – Pearl Izumi

Pearl Izumi’s enlightened marketing department approved a print ad about killing your dog. The highly compensated marketing gurus thought it would be fun and entertaining to demonstrate the enjoyment you’d have running in their shoes to the point that your dog would fall over exhausted and expire during a bit-too-long trail run.

The print ad showed a retriever lying dead on the trail as his presumed owner kneels over him, wearing nice shiny Pearl Izumis, trying to do what looks like CPR.

(Note to other shoe brands: there are myriad other ways to suggest that your customers will run farther because they will enjoy running so much in your products. Running across a big city to meet your girlfriend for a date. Geez, that took 10 seconds to come up with).

Pearl Izumi Dead Dog Ad

Nothing says “I Love Running” like a narrative of running your dog so long it dies.

 You Get What You Pay For

I’m pretty sure Hyundai spent at least $100,000 on bringing “homage to a guy trying to kill himself” to a TV near you, and that Pearl Izumi probably dropped $10,00-$15,000 showing how you could successfully kill No-Longer-Man’s-Favorite-Friend.

What an amazing waste of time, money, resources, and goodwill. I own 3-4 pieces of Pearl Izumi clothing; I won’t be adding to the list in the future.

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