German automaker Volkswagen apologized on Wednesday for a racist advertisement that showed an African-American man being mocked and literally flicked away into a shop named ‘Little Columbus’ by a pair of white hands.
The ad posted to VW's German Instagram, which was meant to promote the company’s latest model, showed the man strolling down a Buenos Aires street when a pair of massive white hands appear from above and push him around. The hands then flick him into a street-side cafe or bar called "Petit Colon" or (Little Columbus), which may refer to colonizer Christopher Columbus. The advertisement tops it off with a woman giggling in the background.
Hey @volkswagen! Kurze Frage: warum macht ihr eine solch rassistische Werbung, in der eine überdimensional große weiße Hand einen nicht-weißen Mann wie ein Spielzeug behandelt und zur Krönung sogar noch in die “Petit Colon” aus dem Bild raus schnipst? pic.twitter.com/0IJL0t3jhR— Zuher Jazmati 🧼🤝🧼 (@zuherjazmati) May 19, 2020
A German Twitterati, who expressed disappointment over the ‘racist advertisement’ wrote: “Hey @volkswagen! Short question: Why are you doing such a racist advertisement, in which an oversized white hand treats a non-white man like a toy and even snaps out of the picture, to top it off in the 'Petit Colon'?”
In a public apology released in German on Wednesday, VW states, "We posted a racist advertising video on Volkswagen's Instagram channel. We understand the public outrage at this. Because we’re horrified, too."
"The Volkswagen Group of today is at home all over the world. And the whole world is at home with us. Every race, every religion, every gender identity. This is our most precious asset. This is who we are. And this video is the opposite of what we are. On behalf of Volkswagen AG, we apologize to the public at large for this film," it further said.
The advertisement was meant to launch the latest edition of VW's popular Golf line. Volkswagen USA also issued a statement over the controversy, stating that the ad was "unacceptable on many levels.”
"Despite our difference in language, our corporate commitment to diversity and inclusion here at Volkswagen of America is universal," the company stated.
"This advertisement by our colleagues was in poor taste and not an accurate reflection of our views or values. We sincerely apologize to anyone offended and everyone who viewed."