German automaker Volkswagen got themselves in some serious hot water thanks to an ad they thought was cute turned out to be overtly racist.
Volkswagen shared the ad in question, promoting its latest vehicle the Golf 8, on its Instagram page. The ad has since been taken down, but in it, two giant white hands can be seen pushing a smaller Black man from a parked VW Golf. The man is eventually flicked by the giant hands into a restaurant named Petit Colon when translated from French means the Little Colonist or Little Settler.
After being met with well-deserved criticism, the company issued an apology.
“We posted a racist advertising video on Volkswagen’s Instagram channel,” the VW brand’s head of sales and marketing Jürgen Stackmann and group head of diversity Elke Heitmüller said in an apology posted on social media. “We understand the public outrage at this. Because we’re horrified, too. On behalf of Volkswagen AG, we apologize to the public at large for this film. And we apologize in particular to those who feel personally hurt by the racist content because of their own history.”
In a separate statement Volkswagen apologized stating:
“it does not tolerate any form of racism, xenophobia, or discrimination.”
Stackmann and Heitmüller also described the video as an “insult to every decent person” and added, “We’re ashamed of it and cannot explain how it came about. All the more reason for us to make sure we clear this up. And we will make the results and consequences of the investigation public.”
This latest ad is just one of many questionably racist issues the company has had to apologize for. Just last year, Volkswagen had to apologize after CEO Herbert Diess said at a company meeting “Ebit Macht Frei,” or “Ebit sets you free.” The term Ebit is short for earnings before interest and tax and is a measure of company profits. He got in hot water because the term sounds similar to “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which was inscribed on the gates of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
In another incident back in 2017, a commercial from Audi that was produced by the used car division of Volkswagen’s joint venture in China equated women to cars. China forced Audi to apologize, and the ad which only ran in the country was pulled.
Volkswagen was founded in 1937 under the Nazi regime, and it was well documented the company used slave labor to build its vehicles. It looks like the stench of its checkered past still lingers. You can watch the troublesome ad below.
Photo: Xinhua News Agency / Getty