The reputation of the car company Volkswagen has been suffering for the past 5 years. In 2015, the company admitted to cheating on diesel emissions tests. This made their cars seem less polluting than they were. The US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that 482,000 VW diesel cars on American roads were emitting up to 40 times more toxic fumes than permitted. The company later admitted that their cheat affected 11m cars worldwide.
Now, their reputation has taken another hit.
Volkswagen released an ad for its Golf car. However, the ad was met with severe backlash.
WHY DID VOLKSWAGEN RECEIVE BACKLASH FOR THEIR AD?
The ad was supposed to be part of a series of ads portraying a love story between a dark-skinned man and a Caucasian woman.
However, the ad is problematic on many levels.
Firstly, the ad shows a Caucasian woman’s large hand flicking a tiny dark-skinned man away from a brand new car and into a café.
This act of “flicking away” has been interpreted by many to be a gesture of white power.
Secondly, the café that the dark-skinned man is flicked into is named “Petit Colon.”
This name also has colonial undertones. It translates to ‘Little Settler’ or ‘Little Colonist’ in both English and French.
Lastly, the ad ends with the phrase “The New Golf” being written across the screen in German, which is ”Der Neue Golf.” However, when this German phrase first appears across the screen, it spells “neger,” a racial slur in the language.
Volkswagen has now withdrawn the ad.
Juergen Stackmann and Elke Heitmueller apologized on behalf of the company –
“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.”
Stackmann and Heitmueller are the brand’s board member for sales and marketing, and head of diversity management, respectively.