Volkswagen has issued a public apology after releasing a racially insensitive advertisement.
Following public outcry and backlash, German automaker Volkswagen has removed a video ad from their Instagram page that many are calling racist.
In the 10-second video uploaded to the company’s page, a pair of oversized white hands are seen dragging a black man away from a yellow car, the new Golf 8, and violently shoving him into a restaurant called “Petit Colon,” which in French translates to Little Colonist or Little Settler. Twitter users also pointed out that as the German slogan “Der Neue Golf” appears, the letters briefly spell the German iteration of the n-word. The ad has since been removed from the company’s official feed, but you can still watch the video on Twitter.
The company, which also owns automobile brands Audi and Porsche, issued a public apology on Wednesday in a statement made by the head of sales and marketing, Juergen Stackmann, and head of diversity management Elke Heitmueller. In a joint statement, the two shared their horror with the ad and that they were conscious of the company’s origins.
Volkswagen was founded in 1937 by the Nazi government and used slave labor from concentration camps during manufacturing.
Stackmann and Heitmüller said in the statement, “We posted a racist advertising video on Volkswagen's Instagram channel. We understand the public outrage at this. Because we're horrified, too.”
They continued, “We're ashamed of it and cannot explain how it came about. All the more reason for us to make sure we clear this up. And we will make the results and consequences of the investigation public.”
Volkswagen was the largest automaker by sales in 2016 and 2017.