TV Spot Showed a Driverless Car Propelling Itself off Cliff; Mental Health Advocacy Group Objects

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HONG KONG ( -- As the result of a medical advocacy group's outcry that it trivalized suicide, an Australian Honda Motor Corp.
The ad portrayed an older Honda driving itself off a cliff. See larger image.

commercial for the new Accord model has been pulled.

Driverless car
In the controversial spot, the owner of an old Honda Accord marvels over a newer version of the same model.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.

Trivializing suicide?
"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."

'Light-hearted tale'
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.

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