Volkswagen Racist Advert
Volkswagen ‘horrified’ by own Golf car ad which appears to show racist white power gesture
Volkswagen apologises and says it is “horrified” as it withdraws an advert for a new Golf model. The ad, which shows a giant pair of white hands moving a black man away from a new VW Golf and flicking him into a cafe named “Petit Colon”, which translates to little colonist in French.
Twitter and Instagram users pointed out that as the German words “Der Neue Golf”, meaning the new Golf, fade into view; the letters can be briefly read as a racial slur. Other users felt the hand appeared to be making a white power gesture.
The German company said it could “understand the outrage and anger” as it pulled the 10 second video from its social media accounts, their statement said “Without question: the video is inappropriate and tasteless. We will clarify how something like this could happen, and there will be consequences.” VW board member for sales and marketing, Juergen Stackmann and head of diversity management, Elke Heitmueller both made apologies on Twitter and LinkedIn, saying “We posted a racist advertising video on Volkswagen’s Instagram channel. 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.” Head of the worker’s council at VW, Bernd Osterloh, said “I’m ashamed of this disgusting video, and I speak for the entire workforce when I say that.”
Initially, perhaps foolishly, VW only issued a half hearted apology, saying that the “origin of the people depicted” was “irrelevant” and that “As you can imagine, we are shocked and surprised that our Instagram story could be so misunderstood”. A full apology and admission of wrong doing soon followed after a new wave of criticisms on social media, with one user saying “No one here got the wrong impression” and “This is bad and racist communication.”
Social media users continue to criticise with one person posting “Oh great, so Germans are racist again”, whilst a Twitter user said “I’m always baffled by how big conglomerates such as Volkswagen can let racist ads go on air and then apologize after the fact as if they had no clue it was offensive,”
Volkswagen was founded under the Nazis and translates to “the people’s car”; VW said that due to its history it always seeks to “position itself against all forms of racism, xenophobia and discrimination”. “Many initiatives in the company and in our global workforce promote diversity, integration and unprejudiced cooperation,” they said. “That makes it all the more annoying that we made this mistake.”