A Cautionary Tale…or don’t believe everything on the Internet

From Christina Blaser:

Originally I thought this was an ad made by Volkswagen around 2005, but thanks to Prof. Sheehan I found out that it’s actually a spoof ad made by two ad guys. Unfortunately, as you can see by the article pasted below, they’re being sued by Volkswagen. I can see why it may be a little touchy to the company and consumers after 9/11 and the London bombings, but what a great way to show and tell viewers that the VW Polo is “small but tough”! It’s a controversial ad, but I can’t help but like ads that use humor to make light of a serious situation to sell a product. It’s funny to me that while some companies like to push the boundaries of “politically correct” scenarios and are rewarded for it (like the Nike Chainsaw Massacre Ad), others are often seen as offensive, racist, or sexist. 




VW to sue Polo bomb ad duo

Stephen Brook, advertising correspondent MediaGuardian, Wednesday January 26 2005 

Volkswagen is to take legal action against the mystery duo who made the controversial suicide bomber short film that apparently shows an Arab blowing himself up in a Polo car.After a week of prevarication, the car giant has decided to go ahead and sue the people behind the advert on the grounds that it was damaging its reputation around the world and falsely linked the VW with terrorism. “We are taking legal action but because it’s early stages we cannot comment further,” a Volkswagen spokesman said.

But the company privately admitted that it cannot locate Lee and Dan, the London based advertising creative partnership who dreamed up the film, which has been seen around the world via the internet. “We are prepared to pursue the two individuals but need to locate them to ensure the success of our legal claim,” the company said in a private memo, details of which have been obtained by MediaGuardian.co.uk.

The short film is made in the style of a TV advert and shows a man hopping into the car wearing the distinctive black and white kaffiyeh scarf commonly worn in the Arab world and made famous by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.  In the advert, the man drives around London streets before blowing himself up outside a restaurant – apparently killing himself but leaving the car intact. Then the slogan, “Polo: small but tough”, appears.

Volkswagen has consistently denied having anything to do with the advert.

Both Lee and Dan have apologised for the film, which they said had a £40,000 budget, but have refused to identify themselves or explain how it was funded. But in a new development, MediaGuardian.co.uk has tracked down the director of the spoof advert, Stuart Fryer, 35. Breaking his silence for the first time, he said he was horrified by the reaction to the ad and had only ever meant it to be used on a showreel and never seen by the public. He disputed Lee and Dan’s estimate of its £40,000 cost, saying the cost had been “more like £400”. “If it cost that much I would like to know where the money went,” Mr Fryer said. “It was made in my spare time. It’s remarkable what you can do for such a low budget. “I just wanted it for show reel purposes, not seen by millions of people around the world.

“I don’t want to offend people, I just want to make advertisements.I wanted to show it to the Saatchis and BBHs of this world.

“Little did I know that the advert that I made would be sent out on the internet and create such a fuss – it’s shocked me.”






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