Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Engage the viewer...when you're already married

I apologize in advance for returning to last week's tempest in a teapot, but it just gets stranger and stranger.

Even if you don't religiously read this blog, you probably heard about the story that I blogged about last week. An advertising agency decided to get "edgy," and produced an ad - praised by the Guardian in a weekly list of advertisements - in which a Hyundai owner tries to commit suicide in his car, but is unable to do so because of the car's clean emissions.

For some reason, people took offense at the ad - especially a person who worked in the advertising industry whose own father had committed suicide. This person questioned how suicide would be a good way to sell cars. (It sure didn't work for computers, as Apple found out decades ago with its "Lemmings" ad.)

From the tenor of the coverage that I read at the time of my post, it was apparent that two entities were involved - Hyundai, the car manufacturer that requested the ad, and Innocean, the ad agency that created it. When I wrote my post, Hyundai was apologetic, but Innocean was silent.

Which brings us to this week, when I got around to reading B.L. Ochman's take on the incident - and I learned something else.

The Hyundai ad, entitled “Pipe Job,” was created by the ad agency Innocean Europe. Despite Hyundai’s denials, Forbes says Innocean is an in-house agency at Hyundai.

Hmm...that's interesting. Hyundai didn't mention that little tidbit in its apology.


Hyundai initially said the ad had no official approval.

I don’t believe them, and I wonder if you do. I think Hyundai Europe, like Ford India and many other companies that issue denials for ads that have already delivered their marketing messages, knew full well that “Pipe Job” existed, even though they denied it and apologized.

Otherwise, how else could the ad have been conceived, storyboarded, cast, shot, and edited without Hyundai’s knowledge? Frankly, if it was, I’m Queen Elizabeth.

I was about ready to cue the corgis, but I researched Innocean a little bit and found this 2011 article.

If there is a forbidden word around the quaint, seaside offices of ad agency Innocean's Huntington Beach, Calif., headquarters, it's "in-house."

"We don't use the term here," said Exec VP-Chief Operating Officer Jim Sanfilippo, tasked by Innocean and Hyundai in late 2008 with forming and staffing the agency, which today is building non-Hyundai clients abroad, and will soon begin a push for new clients in the U.S. "It's not how we feel, and it's not how we operate."

The 2011 article described Innocean's ownership (it is part of the Hyundai Group chaebol). And the article included the following:

Innocean drew snarky whispers when it was announced in late 2008 it would be assigned the Hyundai business....The undertone of that whispering was negative, skeptical even, that a shop so closely tied to the client could carry out needle-moving creative work.

Well, Innocean carried out needle-moving work. The only problem is that it scratched the record in doing so.
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