An advertisement featuring a man running behind a vehicle breathing in exhaust fumes has been pulled as it would cause "widespread offence" to families affected by suicide.

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

The ad features a disclaimer saying it was "filmed under strict controlled conditions. Do not attempt this at home" appears for 5 of the 30 seconds but has been deemed poor taste by 34 people who laid a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority.

The complainants raised several concerns including that was "insensitive to those who have lost loved ones from suicide" and was dangerous due to the risk of copy-cat behavior and that it was misleading because it implied it was safe to breathe car exhaust fumes.

Advertisement

Others said it was simply poor taste due to New Zealand's high suicide rate.

However, Hyundai rejected the claims and did not believe its advertisement was offensive or encouraged or condoned illegal or unsafe practices and had a clear safety emssage.

"Hyundai filmed the advertisement in a controlled environment, and included clear
safety messaging in the advertisement that ... the experiment should not be attempted at home.

"In addition to the safety message, Hyundai included in the voice over script a
statement that the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen-powered vehicle produces clean air.

"It was clear when looking at the image and hearing the voiceover, that the point of the advertisement was that the athlete was breathing in clean air, that allowed the athlete to continue to run.

"The advertisement is not offensive: it does not portray or imply personal harm in any
form."

However, the complaints board disagreed and said the advertisement was "likely to cause widespread offence and portrays a situation which could encourage a disregard for safety".

"This is because it presents a well-known method used for committing suicide and suicide is acknowledged as a significant issue in New Zealand society."

Advertisement

The board also noted that the Hyundai Nexo, a hydrogen-powered vehicle, was "currently unavailable for purchase in New Zealand" according to the company's website.

Meanwhile, the ASA's board also ordered the New Zealand Aids Foundation to pull down a billboard at a site on an off-ramp of an Auckland motorway.

It was part of the Ending HIV programme and showed a man's face from the mid-chest up, with wording "I bring condoms. You bring lube. What's your rule?".

It also showed the URL "rulesofaf***buddy.com" with the word 'f***' obscured and the Ending HIV logo.

In response, the Foundation said using protection during sex with casual partners was an "integral compondent" of their programme and wanted to increase condom use.

However, the board found the identity of the Advertiser was not sufficiently clear for it to qualify as an advocacy advertisement

It said the use of provocative images and language in an unrestricted medium meant an increased risk of offence to an untargeted audience, which included young children.