Hyundai Restless Toddlers in New Zealand

Hyundai Automotive New Zealand promoted the Santa Fe 4WD in 2006 with a television commercial featuring two young toddlers driving to the beach for a surf. The ad was popular in New Zealand, boosting Hyundai’s sales at the time of the Santa Fe’s launch, and was recently voted as New Zealand’s favourite TV ad.

Next generation driver in Hyundai Santa Fe

A toddler boy, wearing a nappy, climbs out of his cot and grabs the car keys from the hall table. He opens the front door and looks at the Hyundai Santa Fe parked outside. We next see him driving on the road. He picks up a toddler girl who’s hitch-hking her way to the West Coast. They drive over the sand dunes and park on the beach. The boy surfs the waves as she watched from the car. The voiceover: “Hyundai Santa Fe, the next generation is here”.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube

Complaints and Bans

Despite the Hyundai Restless ad’s popularity in NZ, there were concerns expressed about the role modelling being shown in the ad. New Zealand’s Advertising Standards Complaints Board considered 71 complaints relating to the ad’s portrayal of underage driving. The Board dismissed the complaints in September 2006, allowing that the commercial was clearly in the fantasy genre and was not shown during children’s programmes.

Australia’s Advertising Standards Board was not as forgiving however, announcing on February 22 the decision to ban the Hyundai TV ad from Australian screens. The Board had determined that the advertisement, which has so far attracted more than 80 complaints from members of the public, depicted a driving practice that was in breach of the law, said Advertising Standards Bureau Chief Executive Officer, Mark Jeanes.

“The Board certainly acknowledged that the notion of a toddler driving a car was unrealistic and fanciful, but under the Advertising for Motor Vehicles Voluntary Code of Practice, fantasy cannot be used when it contradicts, circumvents or undermines the Code,” Mr Jeanes said.

“Many of the complaints were from parents concerned that the advertisement would encourage copy-cat behaviour in young children and might lead to accidents,” he said.

The Board also held that the wearing seatbelts, instead of approved child restraints, was a matter of safety and a depiction which should not be encouraged.

The advertisement has been removed from air in Australia.

Hyundai Restless TV Ad


The Hyundai Santa Fe Restless TV ad was developed at Assignment Group, Auckland, by creatives Howard Grieve and Kim Thorp, with producer Juliet Dreaver. Client service was provided by James Hall and Wendy Schrijvers.

Hitchhiker heading to the West Coast in Hyundai TV ad

Filming was directed by Tony Williams via Sydney Film Company, with producer Maggie Lewis, editor Charles Ivory and director of photography John Blick.

In their submission to NZ’s Advertising Standards Complaints Board, Grieve and Thorp give some of the background for the making of the ad. Casting for the spot first focused on 15 – 18 month-olds in Auckland, Wellington. Through contacts in Brisbane Tony Williams came up with Dante Holdsworth, a 2-years-4-months-old boy who had watched enough surfing to know the moves, and Siena Dutson, a 2-years-6-months-old girl.

Now they had the challenge of making the children appear a year younger. This was achieved by making the cot larger and dressing the children in nappies. Tony, John and crew made the set very child friendly, only calling Dante on set when the lighting was completely locked down, only shooting when Dante was fresh, and knocking off when it was time for him to sleep.

All driving shots of the baby were filmed in a stationary vehicle in a studio, with Dante propped up and forward with cushions. To put his hands on the steering wheel he had to be practically sitting in it.

The hitchhiking shot was filmed on a remote country road. The surfing shots are based on stock footage of adult surfers, with Dante replacing them.

Post production was done at Frame, Set & Match by Flame artist Stuart Cadzow and Grader Christine Todd.

Surfing boy in Hyundai TV ad

Music for Hyundai Restless is “The Wayward Wind”, written by Herb Newman and Stan Lebowsky and made popular in 1956 by Gogi Grant in the USA, and Tex Ritter in the UK. The version used here is by Gogi Grant.

Download The Wayward Wind – Gogi Grant Magic Hits of the 1950s on iTunes

Lyrics for The Wayward Wind

Oh, the wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And he was born the next of kin
The next of kin to the wayward wind

In a lonely shack by a railroad track
He spent his younger days
And I guess the sound of the outward bound
Made him a slave to his wand’rin’ ways


Oh, I met him there in a border town
He vowed we’d never part
Tho’ he tried his best to settle down
Now I’m alone with a broken heart


  • Sam Watson

    The Wayward Wind was made popular by Gogi Grant, not Patsy Cline.

  • Wayne

    You fool…this is great info and you are trying to debate the validity of the artist.

  • No stress Wayne and Sam. I’ve gone back and amended the post. I’m expecting to be able to tell you who sang this version shortly as well.

  • Laura Halvorsen

    The Hyundai Sante Fe television ad.. it is one of the best, if not the best car ad I have ever seen. The entire 60 seconds is so captivating, because of it’s uniqueness and undoubtedly cuteness! I work for a car dealership in Mount Isa that sells Hyundais and it has made the Sante Fe more attractive to a potential buyer (not unlike myself). What a blessing to also establish that it is an Australian television ad!

  • margaret barnaby

    THe ‘Restless Wind’ add for your vehicle is marvellous. It fills my heart with joy. No mean feat for this old girl. It appears on late night TV (in Sydney) and I don’t mind telling you I look forward to it with joyous anticipation. No kidding!
    Clever, Clever ad people.

  • Howard

    Laura, while I agree with what you are saying about the Ad , the ad is a New Zealand television commercial not Australian TVC. Quoted from above “The Hyundai Santa Fe Restless TV ad was developed at Assignment Group, Auckland, by creatives Howard Grieve and Kim Thorp”. And also directed by NZ’er Tony Williams. Unfortunantely the commercial has been banned in Australia.

    See the NZ Herald Story

    While I am not one for the silly debates we hear about claiming whether a talent is Aussie or NZ, at the end of the day we’re all Anzacs, and the Aussies are a fantastically creative bunch, I just thought I’d drop a note.


  • Howard

    PS- there had some Aussie flavour in the creative mix!

  • Thanks Howard for the alert to the Australian ban. There have been a number of deaths here in Australia recently where a child has got into a vehicle, locked him or herself in, and died of heat exhaustion.

  • margaret barnaby

    Lighten up Duncan. It’s a big bad world out there.
    Are you seriously suggesting that this ad had anything to do with those recent tragedies? If the ad has been banned in Oz I shall be seriously considering protesting in the SMH newspaper.

  • Don’t worry Margaret. I’m not at all steamed up about the ad. I’m just reflecting on why the Australian Board decided to ban the ad while the NZ board let it go.

  • Edward

    Who ever thinks the Hyundai is not wrong must really look at it again. I was seriously surprised that they put an ad like that on tv because there is so much wrong with that ad on so many levels. Not only its encouraging incorrect driving safety practices with toddlers driving a car, the biggest issue I feel with the ad is the way the creators have used the innocent children and objectified them to doing adult activities. It was inappropriate that the little girl was hitch hiking and was picked up in the first place as we all know about issues with “stranger danger” but the thing that I thought was disturbing was at the end of the commercial the little boy put his arm around the little girl in a way gratifying the children’s behavior as common adult sexual flirtation among little children. I have problem with the way the advertisers used little children to portray something that adults would do. Anyone who thinks this ad as “cute” they need look at it again and reassess their values as ads like this make you think about how much advertisers are putting children in a position that it is perceived that they are loosing their innocence trying to be adults, which is wrong!

  • margaret barnaby

    Stop! Stop! Stop! The Hyundai ad is an ad. And that’s all. It isn’t wrong for two small children to express affection for one another and it isn’t wrong for adults like me to innocently enjoy their antics. Yes, yes, I know about appropriation, I’m a fifty something female after all. Lighten up Ed. While you’re getting all hot and steamy over the babies something really important might be happening out there. You are a wowzer mate. You should campaign against all those greeting cards with dogs driving cars and being dressed up as ballerinas. Far more harmful wouldn’t you say.

  • Edward

    Ok Margret, I might be a wowzer and not have the 30-40years on ya but my opinion is very valid due to the fact pop culture is shaping my generation and the next gerneration in a disturbing way. You can not deny that advertising has been pushing the bounderies more and more than in the past and due to technology television and advertsing has a big effect on children today. I have no problem with children expressing affection i just have a problem with advertisers using small children and instructing them to do something that adults do. You cant tell me that the affection in the ad was natural,it was constructed and the whole idea of the ad would been more appropriate with adult actors as with children as it looks unatural and wrong. Anyway its not only this ad that shows tendices to push the boundaries its starting become more common in todays advertising and pop culture. I’m not alone with this opinion maybe you should read article at the SMH or the report about “Corporate Paedophilia, Sexualisation of Children in Australia”. I understand this ad probably is not as bad as some, but if you give them a inch they will take a mile. Think about the society you want for your grandchildren as media has a bigger influence to them than ever before.

  • Matt

    Nah, this ad is just a nice funny ad. It is a clear parody, where the humor lies in babies doing clearly impossible things such as surfing and driving cars. Not like countless other ads where children supposedly show a preference for a product or like ads that market directly to children so that they will nag their parents for the product.

    I guess it’s possible that children might see the ad and think it would be funny to jump in a car and try and drive it or get into some kind of trouble but then again, kids would do that anyway given the chance. So put the ad on after hours so we can still have a laugh and enjoy its cuteness.

  • margaret

    THanks Matt. I’m with you. The ad’s appeal lies in the fact that it’s ironic. It’s an adult concept Ed. But irony is at the heart of most adult humour.
    Small children do hold hands and, sin of sins put their arms around other small children and they don’t need prompting by advertising material. It’s normal, and I won’t have any psych grad telling me otherwise.
    Thanks for the suggested reading material. THe ads to which the article refers were explicitly sexualising children by posing them in suggestive and adult scenarios. Of course this goes beyond the bounds of social acceptability.
    Do we know why the ad was pulled? Was it because it may have implanted the desire for 2yr olds to jump in the truck and head to the beach or was it because of the implications which you have suggested Ed? Either way it’s absurd.
    Ultimately we will interpret the ad as our backgrounds and experiences direct. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and likewise child pornography and depravity unfortunately.
    p.s. go easy on the grandma stuff Ed

  • Anton Lang

    I’m with you
    Here in Australia, this ad has garnered an awful lot of comment, and has even been mentioned on some ‘blogs’ in the US.
    The Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper article concerning the banning of the ad is at this following link.

    Here’s Not Looking At You Kid Car Ad Skittled

    It was seemingly banned on numerous fronts, possibly so that if one reason was pooh poohed, then there was the fallback of ‘well there was this also’

    It seems the reasons are the already mentioned copycat thing, the fantasising sequence, and I don’t see the reasoning behind that either, as how many ads depict someone fantasising about something.
    There is also the fact that children up to a certain age here in Australia have to be correctly restrained in cars, and this breached that law.
    The last is that Hyundai have a quirk with their vehicles. To actually get the car to start, or to move, (I can’t remember which) you need to jam down on the brake pedal first, a form of safety measure, and an 18 month old child, sitting on numerous cushions on the drivers seat, illegaly restrained, and in a fantasy sequence, jammed up tight against the steering wheel so that he can hold it with one hand while his other elbow rests outside the open window, can patently not reach the pedal with his feet, and that’s only the little boy. The wowsers obviously had other things to say about the little girl.
    Personally, I think these people are way too precious, and if children of that age (in a fantasy setting, mind you) viewed the advertisement, and then sat down, analysed it, and discussed the ramifications of the ad, they’d be laughing out loud at us.


  • M

    i can’t beleive your debating this ad when there are sexist ads just screaming to be pulled of the air, look at the burger king one with all the women in bikinis. Exactly what i want to see when i’m watching tv with my parents! yes i agree that the amount of children dying in car inncedents which involve being locked in is terrible, but this ad isn’t the cause of that and i hate to sound like a broke record for lack of a better term but that is more of the parents or guardians fault than the makers of the ad. Please! You people are sad who think that pulling the ad off the air will do anything, it will just make more people talk about it and look it up online. Oh and by the way, i thought the ad was pretty crap anyway.

  • Graham

    i think the ad is pretty stupid and agree with aust decision to ban. its a bit sus but also kind of lame too. children should not be portrayed doing things that it could be dangerous for them to do. just in case a kid tries to copy the action.

  • James

    I’m a US resident, Atlanta Ga, and what I know is that this is the most adorable commercial I have ever seen with the 2 cutest kids filmed to highlight them at their most precious. I just found this site, doing a search so I could watch it again – it had been months and I just wanted to warm my heart seeing it again. It is not an instructional video or a “how to” for kids, it is a fantasy as is “Harry Potter” or any other fantastic commercial or show involving kids. Kids have to be watched by their parents lest they get into trouble by wandering to a pool, an open car, an exposed outlet or whatever the source of danger.

  • michelle somerville

    hyundai car tv comercial with the beautiful chidren is the most wonderful add i have ever seen.

    every time it comes on my tv where ever I am in the house I rush so I do not miss it!


  • Anne

    Edward worries me.. he protests too much!! Corporate Paedophilia,…… wow now what sort of person would even think of that watching this innocent advert?? ..apart from….. well I will leave that to the imagination

  • Chris Zizzo

    And I thought we Americans were prudes coming from Puritan stock. Didn’t you Aussies start out as outcast felons? What’s with all the excessive moral outrage?

    This ad is, for my money, the single best ad I’ve seen on television (ok, Internet) in oh. ten years.

    First, the product is burned into my brain. I don’t know the mechanism for this, but other clever commercials are funny and I want to see them again. I just don’t remember what the product was. I first saw this 2 years ago and I still remembered Hyundai Santa Fe was the product when I went searching for it this time.

    Second, while I don’t own this particular car (I considered it when I shopped), I do own a new sports performance vehicle. When I drive it, I feel like that kid. Everything is new and fresh again. The innocent joy on the faces of those two is so heartening and uplifting, I watch the ad over and over again.

    Those of you with your minds in the gutter, stop it. We know all about the creeps out there who view children sexually. There is NO sexual content in this ad. Isn’t that nice? An ad that doesn’t use sex to sell us something; what will they think of next?

    Those of you who are concerned about the safety regulations, are you going to ban all driving scenes in cartoons? Will you edit out any car scenes from old movies and TV shows? Nobody is using any child seats or seatbelts in those.

    When you take your car out on the highway, observe the safety laws. When you are watching television, you can observe a looser code. Nobody is looking at this spot and saying, “Hey, I guess it’s OK to let the baby drive! I saw it on TeeVee!”

    Get serious and lighten up, people.

  • Father James

    If this ad had been about an 18 year old lad driving to the beach, picking up an 18 year old hitch hiker and then surfing… nobody would have watched it…

    Some ads (the wind up woman) tell you that one drug is not enough… take another… some merely insult our intelligence (“I’m not a doctor… but I play one on TV…”)

    Don’t let your kids watch superheroes on TV because they will put on a towel and leap out the 30th story window…

    This has all become silliness on stilts… Back in the late ’60s *some* children’s programming was far over the line… (cartoon… the Thing laughing as Red Chinese city nuked…)

    But then they started hacking up Warner Brother’s cartoons… and by the ’90s childrens’ After School special… showed couple of kids in surf… pushed off their feet by mild wave… got up and laughed… cut because scene might “alarm children and give them nightmares…”

    And last, but not least… toddlers in diapers not going to drive off into the sunset… The Australian government needs to combat some real abuses… like the exploitation of elf labor by Santa…

    It is a wonderful “sense of life” commercial with a haunting song… Made this 60 year old feel young again.

    USMC 0311 1968-70