VW blames cultural insensitivity for advert criticized as ‘racist’

FRANKFURT — Volkswagen on Thursday apologized for posting on its Instagram web page final month an advert extensively criticized as “racist,” and stated it was printed due to an absence of cultural sensitivity.

Within the clip of some seconds, a black man is depicted subsequent to a brand new VW Golf, being pushed round by an outsized white hand, meant to be that of his girlfriend, which then flicks him right into a constructing bearing the signal “Petit Colon.”


Petit Colon is an actual cafe in Buenos Aires, Argentina, situated close to the Teatro Colon. In French the time period interprets into “small settler,” which has colonial undertones.

Volkswagen withdrew the advert on Might 20. and introduced on Thursday the findings of a assessment into the way it got here to be printed.

“We will state that racist intentions didn’t play any position in any respect. We discovered an absence of sensitivity and procedural errors,” Hiltrud Werner, Volkswagen’s administration board member for integrity and authorized affairs stated in a press release.


“On behalf of the Board of Administration, I wish to formally apologize for hurting individuals because of an absence of intercultural sensitivity,” he added.

Volkswagen’s administration board stated it condemned racism and the corporate defined that the advert was a part of a collection of clips from the Golf eight advert marketing campaign depicting a pair who play tips on one another.


With out watching the complete marketing campaign nevertheless, it’s unclear that the white hand is the person’s girlfriend.

Volkswagen pledged to spice up range coaching and enhance controls.

“This advert is tasteless. It’s deeply racist. So deeply, that one has no thought the place to start out,” stated a commentary piece in ROSAMAG, an internet journal for AfroGerman girls and mates.


No member of workers at Volkswagen has been dismissed because of the marketing campaign, which was produced by Voltage, an advert company belonging to New York-based DDB Worldwide.

Voltage was not instantly accessible for remark.

Katja Heintschel von Heinegg, head of Germany’s Advertisting Requirements Council stated: “the corporate has withdrawn the advert, and clearly distanced itself from the content material.”


“Probably the corporate promoting in addition to the company at the moment are sufficiently delicate to the problem that one thing like this won’t occur once more,” she added.


Volkswagen, which has seen its popularity tarnished within the final 5 years after it admitted dishonest diesel emissions exams, has a historical past of insensitive blunders.


Final yr Britain’s Promoting Requirements Authority (ASA) dominated an advert for Volkswagen’s eGolf, which confirmed two male astronauts and a male para-athlete adopted by a girl sitting with a pram, introduced gender roles in a manner that was prone to trigger hurt and shouldn’t seem once more.

In March final yr the corporate’s supervisory board condemned remarks made by the corporate’s chief govt after he appeared to allude to a Nazi-era slogan.

On the time, Herbert Diess stated “EBIT macht frei” earlier than apologizing for the feedback and explaining he by no means needed to attract a comparability to the Nazi-era slogan “Arbeit macht frei,” which appeared on the gates of Auschwitz in the course of the Holocaust.


EBIT refers to an organization’s earnings earlier than curiosity and taxes and Diess had sought to emphasise that Volkswagen’s operational freedom would improve with greater profitability.