The car company is once again in trouble after the release of an ad widely condemned as racist.
Volkswagen has withdrawn a Golf car advertisement posted on its official Instagram page that the company admitted was racist and insulting, saying it would investigate how it came about.
The advertisement features a woman’s large, pale-skinned hands seeming to push and then flick a black man away from a shiny new, yellow Golf parked on a street. The man is flicked into a cafe called “Petit Colon”, a name with colonial overtones. In the background, jaunty music plays, along with sound effects resembling a computer game.
German television noted that the hand could be interpreted as making a “white power” gesture, while letters that appear on the screen afterwards briefly spell out a racist slur in German.
Juergen Stackmann, the VW brand’s board member for sales and marketing, and Elke Heitmueller, head of diversity management, apologised. “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 wrote.
Here’s the ad.
Even apart from the racial overtones, I am baffled by the ad. What exactly is the point that is trying to be made? And how do such things slip through the cracks in a huge company where presumably there are many layers of bureaucracy that must sign off on it before it is released?