A Volkswagen ad posted to its official Instagram account depicted an enormous disembodied white hand dragging a black man away from a Volkswagen Golf, then flicking him into a building signposted "Petit Colon", which translates as "little colonist". Volkswagen soon removed it an apologized.
"We posted a racist advertising video on Volkswagen's Instagram channel," the VW brand's head of sales and marketing Jürgen Stackmann and group head of diversity Elke Heitmüller said in an apology posted on social media. "We understand the public outrage at this. Because we're horrified, too," they added.
How odd that through the whole process of commissioning the ad, filming and editing it, approving the results, transcoding it to mobile-friendly formats, and posting it to social media, no-one realized it was racist. But as soon as it went live, they say "we're horrified, too."
Last year, VW apologized after CEO Herbert Diess used the expression "Ebit macht frei," or "Ebit sets you free," at a management event. Ebit is short for earnings before interest and tax and is a measure of company profits. The phrase sounds similar to "Arbeit macht frei," which was inscribed on the gates of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
There is a culture problem at VW.