Volkswagen is pulling an advertisement after receiving backlash.
On Tuesday (May 19), the German automotive company shared a 10-second snippet on its Instagram Story Tuesday and then quickly removed it.
The ad showed a Black man standing near one of its vehicles. A giant white hand then appears to push him away from the car, pinching him by the head and flicking him into a cafe.
The words "DER NEUE GOLF" (the new Golf) appeared on the screen with the letters N E G E R fading in before the other letters. Those who speak the language claimed the letters spelled the N-word in German.
Other subtle messaging in the ad, as some pointed out via social media, noted that the man was flicked into the Petit Colon – French for “Little Colonist.” Additionally, the Buenos Aires cafe next door to Petit Colon is labeled Teatro Colon, named after Christopher Columbus.
See the ad below:
After outrage, the company made the following statement, "As you can imagine, we are surprised and shocked that our Instagram story could be so misunderstood.”
They agreed to stop running the ad. However, Volkswagen then received more backlash for the tone-deaf statement. One Instagram commenter reportedly wrote, “No one here got the wrong impression. This is bad and racist communication.”
The company released another statement on Wednesday (May 20), “Without question: the video is wrong and tasteless. We will clarify how this could happen — and take consequences from this."