Hyundai’s Unintended Insult

Hyundai’s Unintended Insult


Hyundai uses a baby in a robotic suit to illustrate the new features of its cars.  The suit gives the baby super powers.

A baby in a robotic suit is a clever device, part cute and part creepy.  But it doesn’t work.  The new Hyundai features may be desirable in a car, but they are uninteresting and trivial when demonstrated in an infant’s robotic suit.

The ad suggests that, if you buy a new Hyundai, you also can feel like a baby in a robotic suit.  But do you want to?

Possibly Hyundai’s biggest error is underestimating its audience.  Hyundai was worried that the audience wouldn’t understand the metaphor.  So the ad explicitly spells it out.  “Let’s be honest.  The baby in the suit is you in your new Hyundai.”  If Hyundai fears people won’t get the metaphor, they should do something else.  When you explain a metaphor, you drain a metaphor of its power, like explaining a joke.  But explaining the metaphor does more.  The explanation insults the audience.  Potential buyers see, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Hyundai believes they aren’t smart enough to understand the ad without assistance.

It’s never a good idea to insult your audience.

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