Volkswagen Admits To Running Racist Instagram Ad; Issues Apology

Andrew Cummings
May 23, 2020

German carmaker Volkswagen has withdrawn a social media advert and apologised after an online backlash slamming the clip as racist. Then, a large, first-person white hand plucks a black pedestrian away from a vehicle and into a café while a colorful melody plays in the background.

The advert was one in a series which was supposed to depict a love story between a dark-skinned man and a white woman.

On its Instagram account, which has almost 150,000 followers, Volkswagen stated that "the content shown was a creative use of the Instagram Story format", that the ethnicity of the people portrayed was not supposed to be relevant and that placing a hand close to the camera so that it appears to be holding or controlling a figure in the distance is common on social media.

The man is manoeuvred away from the yellow VW Golf and flicked into a café called "Petit Colon".


Other eagle-eyed users spotted that the cafe's name is Petit Colon, which in French literally translates as the 'Little Colonist'.

Viewers also noted the floating letters in the video clip faded in such a way that it appeared to spell out an offensive word for people of colour in German.

"Neger" can be highly pejorative in German and is used as a racial slur.

Initially, Volkswagen attempted to defend the ad online, saying, "As you can imagine, we are surprised and shocked that our Instagram story could be so misunderstood".


VW issued a separate statement on Wednesday, apologising for the video and saying it was looking into what happened. "That is who we are and this video is the opposite of what we are", the statement added.

The company was created by Adolf Hilter to produce a "people's car" and used forced labour to support the Nazi war effort.

"Many initiatives in the company and in our global workforce promote diversity, integration and unprejudiced cooperation", Volkswagen said.

This is not the first time that Volkswagen has misjudged its messaging. "All the more reason for us to make sure we clear this up".


And in August 2019 a VW advert, which showed men being adventurous as a woman sat by a pram, was banned under United Kingdom gender stereotyping rules.

Other reports by iNewsToday

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