Car company Volkswagen has removed a racially-insensitive ad from their Instagram page.
The German manufacturer apologized and said they aren't sure how the offensive undertones of the clip were overlooked.
The ad, which is ten seconds long and promotes the Volkswagen Golf, features a black man being dragged, prodded and flicked around by a giant white hand.
Though it has now been removed from Instagram by Volkswagen, you can watch the spot which a German reporter screen-captured here:
In der neuen #VW-Werbung wird rein zufällig ein schwarzer Mann von einer weißen Hand hin und her geschubst und ansc… https://t.co/mozDGLgVTW— Felix Edeha (@Felix Edeha) 1589918027.0
The caption for the above tweet says (roughly):
"In the new #VW -Advertising, a Black man is pushed back and forth by a White hand and then flicked into a cafe with the name "petit colon". The first letters entered result in the N word. I could be sick."
At the end of the ad, some people took issue with the man being flicked into a cafe called "Petit Colón."
The phrase translates to "little settler" or "little colonist" according to Huffpost.
Volkswagen’s latest ad was pulled following public outrage against the ad’s racist content. The ad shows a black… https://t.co/XnZ2z88eur— Enniye Timiebi (@Enniye Timiebi) 1590146459.0
Then, when the German phrase for "The New Golf" appears onscreen ("Der Neue Golf") the first visible letters spell the German equivalent of the N-word.
Several German reporters pointed this out on Twitter.
Is it bad that I can’t help but laugh at blatant racism? I’d never purchase a Volkswagen anyway but this was clearl… https://t.co/EYmTQDm86Q— Anti-Villain 🇯🇲 (@Anti-Villain 🇯🇲) 1590159761.0
Initially, Volkswagen responded to criticism by saying the races of the people in their ad didn't matter.
They were "surprised and shocked that our Instagram story could be so misunderstood."
Volkswagen paid for and published a racist ad but failed to see it as racist until it backfired. The apology is ins… https://t.co/i6gvZw2AiB— Maya Wiley (@Maya Wiley) 1590149232.0
Shortly after, however, board member Juergen Stackmann and head of diversity management Elke Heitmueller issued a joint statement.
Their revised response said they were "horrified" by the ad's contents.
Ich entschuldige mich aufrichtig als Einzelperson in meiner Funktion als Vorstandsmitglied bei Volkswagen Sales & M… https://t.co/4wZuqzDgHF— Jürgen Stackmann (@Jürgen Stackmann) 1589986384.0
The two Volkswagen leaders' statement referenced the fact that the company was founded by the Nazis, saying:
"That is precisely why we resolutely oppose all forms of hatred, slander/propaganda and discrimination."
They promised to investigate how the ad was allowed to be made and to share "results and consequences" with the public.
Our position https://t.co/1IjAxRDqSf— Volkswagen (@Volkswagen) 1590076090.0
@NBCNews #Volkswagen #Racism #History https://t.co/JEXWuUzQdr— Rajan Naidu Ⓥ (@Rajan Naidu Ⓥ) 1590108219.0
#Germany: The new blatantly racist #VW #Volkswagen commercial shows a Black person being pushed around by white han… https://t.co/gYbqoEc1TZ— د. دانيال ياغِتش | Dr. Denijal Jegić (@د. دانيال ياغِتش | Dr. Denijal Jegić) 1590078171.0
Volkswagen seems to issue an insensitive ad or comment every few years.
@NBCNews You gotta wonder how this even happened. Did they make it thinking no one would have a problem with it? It is truly bizarre.— Into the Weeds We Go (@Into the Weeds We Go) 1590108210.0
It's more important than ever that companies are aware of what their advertisements are saying about race and gender, a lesson Volkswagen has learned the hard way.