|The ad portrayed an older Honda driving itself off a cliff. See larger image.
In the controversial spot, the owner of an old Honda Accord marvels over a newer version of the same model. The owner's admiration spurs the old vehicle to lock its doors, rev its motor and drive off a cliff. The machine carries out these activities by itself, with no human being inside.
But a local activist group, focused on the medical problem of depression, publicly charged that the ad was too insensitive.
"We thought the ad trivialized suicide, which is a very serious health issue in Australia," said Ian Hickey, a Sydney-based spokesman for Beyondblue, a mental-health advocacy organization in Australia.
Mr. Hickey said that "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."
Even though the automaker pulled the spot, a Honda spokesperson defended the creative work as a "light-hearted, comically exaggerated tale" that is "pure fantasy." Honda has announced it will revamp the ad with a different, more upbeat ending.