In the ad, the owner of an old Honda Accord marvels over a newer version of the same model.
The owner's admiration spurs the old version to locks its doors, rev its motor and drive off a cliff, a story that critics charge is too insensitive.
"We thought the ad trivialized suicide, which is a very serious health issue in Australia. It's extremely insensitive to families that have been affected by suicide and conflicts with our strategy to tackle the issue," said Ian Hickey, a Sydney-based critical adviser to Beyondblue, an Australian organization aimed at helping what it says isthe country's growing problem with depression.
"Many suicide victims are young people, who these ads are aimed at, so we feel the subject [of suicide] needs to be treated differently by ad agencies and corporations. In this case, Honda has behaved very quickly and responsively, by pulling the ad immediately," he said.
Honda said the spot, created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Melbourne, was a "lighthearted, comically exaggerated tale" which is "pure fantasy," because clearly no driver is in the car.
Even so, that ad has been pulled off the air and is being revamped with a different, less controversial ending.