Hyundai Has Played Gay At Least Twice — But Is It A Convincing Act?


Weird: a few days ago, I posted a Hyundai ad that featured a lesbian plotline. At first, I found it confusing — not because the narrative was convoluted, but because Hyundai is one of the world’s few automakers that’s not gay-friendly. (Nor is its sister, Kia, FWIW.)  But as I said at the time, the spot was built by a Canadian firm, so I thought that maybe Hyundai was just being culturally sensitive — you know, since marriage equality is the law of the land in the Great White North.

A reader by the name of Anthony who lives in Vancouver was kind enough to verify that yes, the clip in question ran on Canadian TV, nixing any thoughts I’d had that it might’ve been a student ad or other mock-up. So could Hyundai be on the road to change?

A few days later, AdWeek posted a rundown of “The 50 Gayest Ads Ever” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). And when I finally got around to skimming the piece, I noticed that in the middle of all the double-entendres and psych-outs (you know: like that Doritos Super Bowl ad from earlier this year) was another Hyundai ad.

This time, Hyundai’s ad hails from Sweden, where same-sex marriage is also legal (though technically, the clip dates from 2006, three years before marriage equality was enshrined in Swedish law). And just like the Canadian ad, it feels, well, disappointing. Have a look:

On the upside, at least the Swedish ad doesn’t seem as much like straight male porn fantasy as the Canadian one.

On the downside, it’s clearly a “laughing at” spot, not a “laughing with” one. The gay guy is a punch line, not anyone we’re meant to identify with.

But you know, I could probably forgive that if the commercial weren’t so damn sloppy. I mean, you can see the “big twist” coming from a mile away. Even the writers on Three’s Company would’ve found it too corny.

Also a stumbling block: Hyundai being a hold-out in the fight for LGBT workplace equality. I probably wouldn’t complain as much if the spot were from, say, GM, which has a good record of being LGBT-inclusive.

Crap. I dunno what to think anymore. Am I being too critical? Do I need to lighten up? I’m usually of the opinion that any representation is better than no representation at all — better to be serial killers and suicidal maniacs than to be left on the cutting room floor. But in this case… Well, how hard is it to create an ad that’s both funny and inclusive?

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