Oops! VW did it again…
Car manufacturer Volkswagen has once again lost itself in its communication. The company has presented its apologies for a short commercial spot on the official Instagram page that was blatantly racist.
In a 10-seconds video, we see a new Golf VIII parked before an establishment called ‘le petit colon’ (the little colonist). A black man wearing a suit and turning around the car is suddenly taken up by giant white hands and pushed into the establishment, away from the Golf.
People online also noted that when the German slogan ‘Der Neue Golf’ (The New Golf) first appears, the letters that are seen first seem to spell the German racial slur ‘neger’ (nigger). The spot was removed from the VW account very quickly but is still to be found on the internet.
Sorry came too late
VW admitted that the ad was ‘a mistake’ and ‘completely tasteless’. Elke Heitmueller, head of diversity management, and Jürgen Stackmann, the VW brand’s board member for sales and marketing, released a joint statement saying: ‘We understand the public outrage at this because we’re horrified, too.”
“This video is an insult to all achievements of the civil rights movement. It is an insult to every decent person,” they added. “We at Volkswagen are aware of the historical origins and the guilt of our company during the Nazi regime. That is precisely why we resolutely oppose all forms of hatred, slander/propaganda, and discrimination.”
The car manufacturer also stated to be ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ that the campaign was ‘misunderstood’. The ad was reportedly intended to be part of a series of adverts that were going to show a love story between a caucasian woman and a dark-skinned man.
This ambiguous reaction was immediately reacted upon in social media, where a Twitter user retorqued: “It’s not our interpretation that has to be corrected, it’s you, working together with racists.”
It’s not the first time that VW made a slip in its communication. Not even a year ago, VW Group CEO, Herbert Diess, was using an unbelievable word game to explain the excellent financial results by using the slogan ‘EBIT Macht Frei’: the two latter words, of course, referring to the entrance sign of the Auschwitz concentration camp ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’.
VW claims it is now thoroughly investigating internally how this new mistake could happen.