Did Volkswagen Pull an Ad Because it Included a Racist Slur?

Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg Germany.
Krisztian Bocsi  Bloomberg

Volkswagen has formally apologized for a since-pulled advertisement following accusations of racism and insensitivity.

German vehicle giant Volkswagen apologised Wednesday for an Instagram ad that showed a giant white hand pushing around a black person, after an online backlash slamming the clip as racist.

The ad, which was shown on Instagram's Story feature, showed a large, pale-skinned hand appearing to push a dark-skinned man around a yellow VW Golf parked on a street, before flicking him into a doorway away from the vehicle.

A tweet by journalist Felix Edeha criticizing the video was highlighted (or "liked") more than 2,000 times; he noted that the ad shows a white hand moving a Black man around before putting him into a building marked "Petit Colon".

Published on the company's social media channels, the clip shows a black person checking out the all-new Golf.

And the cafe's name is Petit Colon, which in French literally means the "Little Colonist".

"Without question, the video is inappropriate and tasteless", Volkswagen wrote. And we particularly apologize to those who feel that the racist content has personally injured them through their own history.

We apologise to the entire public for this film.

A tagline reading "Der neue Golf" - meaning "The new Golf" - then fades from the screen in a way that appears to spell the N-word in German, sparking intense online backlash, according to the UK Telegraph.

The Wolfsburg-based automaker was founded under the Nazis to produce "the people's car".

"We at Volkswagen are aware of the historical origins and the guilt of our company during the Nazi Regime".

It added that it would "investigate how this could have happened - and draw the necessary consequences", which could include more checks and balances on its marketing.

In 2013 there was controversy in the U.S. after the firm aired a Superbowl advert with the character of a white man from Minnesota, speaking with a Jamaican accent, exhorting colleagues to be more relaxed in their approach to life.



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