Volkswagen Commercial

30 May

The above Volkswagen commercial was banned shortly after its release in 2005– the video features a young Arab man entering a vehicle in London, parking it in front of a busy street full of white individuals with intent to use a suicide bomb to destroy the area, he begins to pray and hits the detonator. However– his plan backfires when the vehicle is “too strong” and the explosion (sound and destruction) is confined to the vehicle and not a single person in the street notices his attempt.

The video plays on the cultural story and fear element of the July 7, 2005 synchronized bombings in London. The first bomb erupting in an Eastbound Circle Line Underground train, the second in a Westbound Circle Line underground train, the third in a Piccadilly Line train only 500 yards from King’s Cross, and lastly, a bomb planted in a double decker bus exploded in Tavistock Square. In total, 56 people were killed and nearly 700 were injured.

July 7, 2005 Bombing

By using a fear element to play on the cultural story that London had experienced in just months prior– they were able to create a shield of ‘protection’ by advertising the Polo in such a way. By purchasing the Polo and driving it, you would be protected from the things outside because of it’s strength and durability. This, while appearing to signify boming attacks may actually be indicated more to car accidents and other typical forms of protection.

We see extremely similar advertising tactics in the 1950’s and 1960’s although in a much more tame environment. Men and women were promised the notion of success or a happy family by purchasing products.

The element of racism is seen in the video by the association between the London bombings, which were attributed to Islamic radicals, and the casting of a middle eastern gentlemen in the film. This type of casting was not done incidentally and was done to create an image of what we assume suicide bombers are like.

Young, Male, Middle Eastern, Religious, Martyrs.

Despite the ban of the commercial, the internet never lets anything die (ask Sarah Palin), and it swarmed around for years to come still being cited as one of the most racist advertisements in history.


However… there’s a TWIST! Shortly after the videos release (and Volkswagen losing their brain) it was revealed that the video was simply a “hoax” by two independent film makers: Lee and Dan.

Dan, from Lee and Dan stated that the video leaked inadvertantly:

“The ad got out accidentally and has spread like wildfire. It wasn’t meant for public consumption. We think the spot reflects what people see in the news everyday, and in this instance the car is the hero that protects innocent people from someone with very bad intentions. We’re sorry if the ad has caused any offence.”


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