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The Jihadmobile, Small but Tough
January 18, 2005 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Is this any way to sell Volkswagens? [note: QT link] This "viral ad" for the VW Polo has been making the rounds, leaving a trail of exasperated disgust, outrage, and guilty snickering in its wake. VW's ad agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach, however, claims that it's bogus. (I asked them). Paging Snopes.
posted by digaman (68 comments total)

 
Coral Cache
posted by b1tr0t at 5:28 PM on January 18, 2005


denying a 'leaked' ad?
posted by raygun21 at 5:43 PM on January 18, 2005


What do you expect from the company that builds Hitler's Car?

Profit off suicide bomber jokes? Nothing. Try profit off slave labor.
posted by felix betachat at 5:44 PM on January 18, 2005


When did DDB drop the Needham?
posted by astruc at 5:51 PM on January 18, 2005


Good thing you nipped that viral ad in the bud, or discouraged those attention-seeking fakers, whichever the case may be.
posted by Hildago at 5:56 PM on January 18, 2005


Hosted on 'mefi's own' dabitch's Ad-Land site. Also, shot in the UK, for sure. We're edgy like that...

felix: you write ' What do you expect from the company that builds Hitler's Car?' like it's the present tense. That's a pathetic example of anti-german sentiment, which ain't even redeemed by humour. The war ended 60 years ago in June: get over it.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:08 PM on January 18, 2005


The ad is funny. And it had a happy ending.
posted by effwerd at 6:23 PM on January 18, 2005


Dead Arab +1
posted by orange clock at 6:29 PM on January 18, 2005


My favorite "unapproved" ad was the I Feel Great! commercial for Nutrigrain bars.

"Bill, I'm Steve I'm marrying a girl just because of her looks and we're rushing right into making babies!"
"Baaabiiiies!!"
"I've got no income cuz I just quite my job but I don't care because I Feel Great!"
posted by jeffmik at 6:30 PM on January 18, 2005


Just in case you missed it before: I feel Great!! (QT)

Nice call, jeffmik.

Oh, and I thought the VW (fake) ad was pretty tasteless.
posted by OpinioNate at 6:38 PM on January 18, 2005


Hitler did rule at one time, before he completly lost his mind, and apparently the old V-Dubs have lasted a while. Please forgive the snark/irony/sarcasm.
posted by snsranch at 6:39 PM on January 18, 2005


Jeffmik That "I Feel Great!" ad is awesome...

but, if I may ask..
And maybe I'm being obtuse.

I didn't see a link to the ad.

Firefox?
posted by Balisong at 6:42 PM on January 18, 2005


It's inbedded in the first link, Balisong. ALthough b1tr0t's link is faster.
posted by OpinioNate at 6:45 PM on January 18, 2005


The "Feel Great" ad is fucking hilarious.
posted by Tlogmer at 7:02 PM on January 18, 2005


I didn't see a link to the ad.

I didn't see some of these links either until I turned off Norton Internet Security.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:16 PM on January 18, 2005


Suicide bomber wins a Darwin.
posted by caddis at 7:16 PM on January 18, 2005


no, it's not any way to sell volkswagons
posted by pyramid termite at 7:20 PM on January 18, 2005


Tasteless and amusing. Isn't this sort of thing the whole point of the internet?
posted by Luther Blissett at 7:22 PM on January 18, 2005


Umm yeah. That would be fake. And not very funny at all. And... nevermind.

Anybody heard any good tsunami jokes?
posted by scarabic at 7:28 PM on January 18, 2005


Please explain what is tasteless about making fun of suicide bombers who blow themselves up without hurting any innocent people (ala tsunami jokes).
posted by caddis at 7:34 PM on January 18, 2005


Scarabic: So when is it ok to make a joke out of the Tsunami? How long do we have to wait?

The best humor, dark, acidic humor, is often rooted in tragedy.

Don't be so morally outraged all the time.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:53 PM on January 18, 2005


I haven't heard any good jokes about suicide bombers, but I've heard scores of good ones about people starting themselves on fire. It's hi-larious.

Here's your tsunami joke, you sick bastard.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:57 PM on January 18, 2005


Yeah, like I fucking trust snopes anymore.
posted by interrobang at 7:58 PM on January 18, 2005


you write ' What do you expect from the company that builds Hitler's Car?' like it's the present tense.

Indeed, VW manufactured the last of Hitler's Cars a full year and a half ago. Get with the program!
posted by kindall at 8:08 PM on January 18, 2005


Thanks for posting the I Feel Great agan, OpinioNate - I couldn't find it online to share again!
posted by jeffmik at 8:29 PM on January 18, 2005


felix: you write ' What do you expect from the company that builds Hitler's Car?' like it's the present tense. That's a pathetic example of anti-german sentiment, which ain't even redeemed by humour. The war ended 60 years ago in June: get over it.

dash_slot: I have no problem with Germans (some of my best friends are...), just major corporations (Volkswagen, Bayer, Ford) whose present day market share and profits are built on the backs of WWII slave labor and malfeasance.

Do I think adequate reparations will ever be paid? Nope.

Do I think such companies have a persistent ethical obligation to tread carefully around issues sensitive to the Jewish community? Yep.

Will I call them on it? Every f-ing time.
posted by felix betachat at 8:35 PM on January 18, 2005


Wikipedia:
The [Volkswagen] company owes its postwar existence largely to one man, British army officer Major Ivan Hirst (1916–2000). In April 1945 [the VW factory] KdF-Stadt and its heavily bombed factory were captured by the Americans, and handed to the British to administer. The factory was placed under the control of Hirst. At first the plan was to use it for military vehicle maintenance. Since it had been used for military production, and had been a "political animal" (Hirst's words) rather than a commercial enterprise, the equipment was in time intended to be salvaged as war reparations. Hirst painted one of the factory's cars green and demonstrated it to British army headquarters. Short of light transport, in September 1945 the British army was persuaded to place a vital order for 20,000. The first few hundred cars went to personnel from the occupying forces, and to the German Post Office. By 1946 the factory was producing 1,000 cars a month, a remarkable feat considering the factory was still in disrepair: the damaged roof and windows meant rain stopped production; the steel to make the cars had to be bartered with new vehicles.

The car and its town changed their Second World War-era names to Volkswagen and Wolfsburg respectively, and production was increasing. It was still unclear what was to become of the factory. It was offered to representatives from the British, American and French motor industries. Famously, all rejected it.

posted by dash_slot- at 8:46 PM on January 18, 2005


This reminds me of a comment on Something Awful in regard to tribute.wmv (scenes of 9/11 soundtracked with some wacky song called "Yakkety Sax"):

"I don't show this stuff to non-Internet people, they just don't get it with their decency and feelings and whatnot."
posted by bingbangbong at 8:58 PM on January 18, 2005


O, and I don't see how a guerrilla ad like this has anything to do with german reparations, or WWII guilt. It was a cheap shot you made. Your most recent comment is even more of a non-sequitur.

O, well.
posted by dash_slot- at 8:58 PM on January 18, 2005


The tsunami jokes made me laugh.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:03 PM on January 18, 2005


I haven't heard any good jokes about suicide bombers...

Does this do anything for you?


A joke about suicide bombers.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:06 PM on January 18, 2005


My outrage meter must need calibrating. I'm not even mildly outraged by this.

*whap*

*whirrrrr buzzzz*

Hmm. Maybe it needs new batteries.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:06 PM on January 18, 2005


O, and I don't see how a guerrilla ad like this has anything to do with german reparations, or WWII guilt. It was a cheap shot you made. Your most recent comment is even more of a non-sequitur.

Um. If your company built the trucks whose exhaust was used by the Einsatzgruppen to gas Polish Jews, then you should think twice about selling cars by referencing a contemporary means of Jew-murder. Even if 60 years and some crusty brit have intervened.

I'm just saying it's in bad taste.
posted by felix betachat at 9:13 PM on January 18, 2005


Sorry. That "crusty brit" being British army officer Ivan Hirst (1916-2000). Not you.
posted by felix betachat at 9:15 PM on January 18, 2005


I thought it was cute. And it's preventing the murder of Jews! Well, at least in the commercial.
posted by mek at 9:23 PM on January 18, 2005


Weird. Not working. Must have some deep-link protection thang happening.

Try copy'n'pasting this into your browser address window:

http://www.fortliberty.org/patriotic-humor/patriotic-pictures/suicidebombers.jpg
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:28 PM on January 18, 2005


selling cars by referencing a contemporary means of Jew-murder

One more time:

The ad wasn't made by VW.

Got it?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:28 PM on January 18, 2005


The ad wasn't made by VW.

Sorry, I thought that was precisely the issue in question.

You've got conclusive proof? Dish. That's probably more interesting than snarking at me.
posted by felix betachat at 9:32 PM on January 18, 2005


Is it too late to call Godwin?
posted by icey at 9:50 PM on January 18, 2005


Please explain what is tasteless about making fun of suicide bombers

Look in the mirror and say that. Done.
posted by scarabic at 12:28 AM on January 19, 2005


I say hipsters did it.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:44 AM on January 19, 2005


I thought it was piss-funny...

I suppose I'm evil....
posted by pompomtom at 12:55 AM on January 19, 2005


Anybody heard any good tsunami jokes?



too soon?
posted by mosch at 1:11 AM on January 19, 2005


That "I feel great" commercial was funny, but really disturbing. And is it just me or did they do some computer-aided messing around with people's teeth and eyes? Just to make them look more crazy?
Weirdness.

also, the VW ad was lame.

(on preview, lol mosch)
posted by blacklite at 1:15 AM on January 19, 2005


If it wasn't made by VW's ad-compnay all I can say is that it's a fucking good spoof. Nice production values for a fake ad.

Remember, these are marketing people we're talking about, they'd use real suicide bombers if they thought they could make a buck
posted by fullerine at 1:19 AM on January 19, 2005


Hey! Marketing people are not nearly that evil, we'd only use real suicide bombers if they were cheaper than actors.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:27 AM on January 19, 2005


damn, we get metafiltered (exiting) and then cybershitty suddenly gets some "problem with the network in the city". That means my server is unreachable now. Argh!
posted by dabitch at 2:35 AM on January 19, 2005


C'mon. The butt of tsunami jokes are 150,000 innocent victims while the butt of the fake VW ad joke is one imbecilic terrorist. The cafe patrons were fine. Even the car survived if not a little worse for wear. Certainly the subject matter is tasteless but the delivery was far from patently offensive or morally reprehensible.

But in the interests of full disclosure, I admit I am a sick bastard.
posted by effwerd at 3:10 AM on January 19, 2005


For us unfortunate dial-up souls, can someone please outline the plot of the ad?
posted by ori at 3:34 AM on January 19, 2005


ok, man gets into VW polo... Drives to a an outdoor cafe where men women and small babies are enjoying the afternoon. Cut to him inside the car setting off his suicidebomber belt. Explosion fails to do anything but blow him up inside the car. Tagline: VW, small but tough.
posted by dabitch at 3:42 AM on January 19, 2005


The subject matter is ha-ha controversial, but it doesn't entirely seem to make sense. If I had a bomb, I'd either get out of the car or PUT the bomb somewhere on the car.

Just sayin'.

Someone should mix in "Babies EVERYWHERE!" at the end. Then I would laugh harder.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 7:05 AM on January 19, 2005


You've got conclusive proof? Dish. That's probably more interesting than snarking at me.

And to think of the money I wasted called Doyle Dane Bernbach! Damn skimmers. I've gotta get that voice-over-IP-thingie.
posted by digaman at 7:06 AM on January 19, 2005


Perhaps, as a rejoiner, the 'fakers' should make an ad showing a Gaza family protected in their "Small but Tough" car as an IDF bulldozer destroys their home?
posted by eustatic at 7:14 AM on January 19, 2005


I'm incline to believe digaman.
With the Sportka, I can see an ad agency getting drunk and waking up the next day, asking, "Where did we put that fake cat? Also, did we release something to the internet without the client's permission?"
But it was still unlikely.

Arnold used to be VW's company over here, but Lee and Dan seems like a pretty odd choice for overseas. (Although I like their "Doritos: They could put your eye out" tagline) I hope, and believe, VW would know better, and anyone who worked with them would, too. Hmm.

Then again, this is better than that old ad where Herbie stabbed that hobo to death. That was unexpected.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 7:17 AM on January 19, 2005


I tried that in my vanagon camper and now I need a new transmission.
posted by buzzman at 8:53 AM on January 19, 2005


More confirmation from DDB this morning:

"Volkswagen UK and its agencies strenuously deny that they have any involvement in the creation of a viral advertisement that has been accessible through the Internet depicting an explosion taking place inside a Volkswagen Polo."
posted by digaman at 8:55 AM on January 19, 2005


I'm reminded of a Bill Hicks joke:

If any of you here are in advertising, kill yourself. Seriously. Kill yourself.

(by the way, I temporarily couldn't find Bill Hicks' name in my brain, so I googled "comedian, texas, dead" and the first link was Bill Hicks is dead. Thanks, google!)
posted by fletchmuy at 10:23 AM on January 19, 2005


Ironically, every time that joke is repeated, it is an ad for Bill Hicks.
posted by dabitch at 10:37 AM on January 19, 2005


Direct link to the VW video at BrandRepublic
posted by hartsell at 11:30 AM on January 19, 2005


BrandRepublic Denial Story.
posted by dabitch at 11:42 AM on January 19, 2005


Arnold used to be VW's company over here

Still is. And these little exercises are done all the time, without the knowledge of the client, and most die an unnoticed death. Sometimes they break out of the office and get passed around.

Unlike those decapitated-cat Ford Ka ads from a few months back, where I'm pretty sure Ford was loving the PR as strenuously as they were denying any involvement, there's little chance this will be considered anything but poor taste (at best) to the majority of folks who view it. I have a feeling there are some major headaches in Wolfsburg today.

So rail against VW all you want, but I wouldn't blame them for this specific bit of sophomoric "humor".
posted by jalexei at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2005


Ironically, every time that joke is repeated, it is an ad for Bill Hicks.

You really should hear the rest of the joke.
posted by mr.marx at 1:50 PM on January 19, 2005


I'm a big fan actually, so I know it quite well. That little part of the joke is like saying "the elite republican guard" and leaving out "the republicans made it all up about there being guards out there". ;) Also, that joke appears every time advertising is disucussed and it's getting mighty tired.
posted by dabitch at 12:25 AM on January 20, 2005


Agreed. I just wanted to stryka under that Bill was aware of the irony.
:)
posted by mr.marx at 7:16 AM on January 20, 2005


for felix betachat:
Paul Buckett, a VW spokesman, said: 'Two creatives known to our advertising agency, DDB London, sent in this work on spec. The agency wouldn't have anything to do it. I can only assume the people who made it put it on the web.

'We were horrified. This is not something we would consider using: it is in incredibly bad taste to depict suicide bombers.

'It gives the impression we've condoned or supported it, and is potentially very damaging to Volkswagen. Our legal department is planning an action and we will decide tomorrow.'

posted by dash_slot- at 7:34 AM on January 23, 2005


Looks like they decided....
posted by kimota at 4:27 PM on January 27, 2005


Yeah, but they can't find Lee and Dan. "Volkswagen will demand a formal apology by the end of the week from the creative team who dreamed up the Volkswagen suicide bomber advert - if it can find them."
How hard can it be to find Lee Lockwood and Dan Brooks? Even I have their phonenumber. Sheesh.
posted by dabitch at 4:03 AM on January 28, 2005


And here is the apology.
posted by terrapin at 6:07 AM on February 2, 2005


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