Volkswagen may slam phony advertisers with lawsuit

jerusalem | Volkswagen is threatening to sue the makers of a bogus publicity campaign which features a terrorist using one of the company’s automobiles to carry out a suicide bombing.

The ad features a young Middle Eastern man with a checkered kaffiyeh around his neck descending the stairs of a house. He gets into a Polo VW, starts the motor and drives off. The scene cuts to people sitting at an outdoor cafe. The camera closes in on a mother holding a baby. The driver detonates an explosive belt buckled around his waist. The bomber blows himself up, but the sturdy vehicle manages to absorb the blast. The next scene shows a black frame with the VW logo and a slogan reading: “Polo. Small but Tough.”

The ad has spurred thousands of responses on advertising blogs and newsletters, with some industry insiders speculating that Volkswagen secretly paid for the ad. Both the car company and the British agency that produced it, however, deny there was any cooperation in making the ad.

The Lee and Dan agency that created the ad specializes in irreverent ads.

A statement released by Volkswagen and quoted on, the advertising industry’s leading trade magazine, said that “Neither Volkswagen nor any agency acting on behalf of Volkswagen was involved in any way with the creation, production or distribution of this material. Volkswagen is reviewing legal steps against the initiators of this material.”

Ron Ackerman, director of public relations for Volkswagen in Israel, confirmed that Volkswagen is threatening legal action against Lee and Dan, who claim their ad was only meant to reach a small professional audience.

Laura Kam Issacharoff, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Israel office, said, “There is no accounting for this advertisement’s inappropriateness and bad taste. It’s appalling. Although it has no implicit Jewish or Israeli context, it negatively stereotypes Arabs, and I would understand if the Arab community would be up in arms against it. Terrorism is no laughing matter in any context.”