Spoof Volkswagen suicide bomber ad sparks global row

January 23, 2005

CONTENTS

1. "VW Polo" Suicide Bomber Ad: A worldwide internet hit
2. Two-thirds of Germans polled: Israel "waging a war of extermination" against the Palestinians
3. Glasgow Herald: Hizbollah threatens UK suicide attacks

 


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach three articles, with a brief summary and/or notes first for those who don't have time to read the articles in full.

"VW POLO" SICK AD: "SMALL, BUT TOUGH" -- A WORLDWIDE INTERNET HIT

"Spoof suicide bomber ad sparks global row." (This article is from the advertising and media supplement of today's Guardian newspaper – January 20, 2005).

"Volkswagen is at the centre of a global row after a disturbing film featuring a Palestinian suicide bomber in a Polo car flew around the world on the internet. The short film is made in the style of a TV advert and shows [the suicide bomber] driving around a city before blowing himself up - apparently killing himself but leaving the car intact outside a restaurant. Then the slogan, "Polo: small but tough", appears.

Volkswagen said last night it was outraged by the spoof advert, which became the fifth most talked about item on internet weblogs... Some distinctively professional techniques were used to make the film: it was shot on 35mm film, not something an amateur would usually do, and cost $75,000, not a sum an amateur could afford.

... The advert had received a "very positive response" on websites. Things had "gone crazy" after the ad hit the internet and its makers had even been interviewed by the New York Times, he added... A spokesman for Volkswagen said the company was considering legal action and blamed the advert on "two young creatives who are trying to make a name for themselves"...

Tom Gross adds: One can only wonder what kind of person would make such an advert, and why so many tens of thousands of people have downloaded it worldwide.

 

TWO THIRDS OF 3,000 GERMANS POLLED: ISRAEL "WAGING A WAR OF EXTERMINATION" AGAINST THE PALESTINIANS

It is not only the Arab world which is full of myths about Jews and Israel, but 21st century Europe.

Following recent polls in which (1) Germans equated the Israeli army with the Nazis, (2) British youth said they had not heard of Auschwitz, and (3) Britons thought Israel the world's worst country, in (4) another new poll from Germany this week, 62% of 3,000 Germans polled said they are "sick of all the harping on about German crimes against the Jews," and more than two thirds thought Israel was "waging a war of extermination" against the Palestinians.

The article below ("Germans sick of Nazi reminders") is from The Times of London.

 

HIZBOLLAH THREATENS UK SUICIDE ATTACKS

This is an article from today's Glasgow Herald (January 20, 2005)

"Mojtaba Bigdeli, spokesman for Iran's Hizbollah group, warned the British government must ban the satellite channel, run by Iranian exiles, within 30 days or face the consequences. 'After one month, our commandos will carry out suicide attacks in London against the shameless presenter of the channel. He has crossed our red lines by insulting our prophet and Islamic values.' "

Tom Gross adds: One wonders why so far no other media in Britain other than the Glasgow Herald appears to have covered this story. Readers might also be surprised at the Glasgow Herald's description of Hizbollah only as a "hardline religious group".

 



FULL ARTICLES

SPOOF SUICIDE BOMBER AD SPARKS GLOBAL ROW

Spoof suicide bomber ad sparks global row
By Stephen Brook, advertising correspondent
MediaGuardian
January 20, 2005

media.guardian.co.uk/advertising/story/0,7492,1394088,00.html

Volkswagen is at the centre of a global row after a disturbing film featuring a Palestinian suicide bomber in a Polo car flew around the world on the internet

The short film is made in the style of a TV advert and shows a man hopping into the car wearing the distinctive check scarf made famous by the late Yasser Arafat. He drives around a city before blowing himself up - apparently killing himself but leaving the car intact outside a restaurant. Then the slogan, "Polo: small but tough", appears.

Volkswagen said last night it was outraged by the spoof advert, which became the fifth most talked about item on internet weblogs.

"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," the car maker said in a statement.

One explanation is that the film was created by a maverick advertising wannabe trying to get work from Volkswagen.

The mystery deepened after MediaGuardian.co.uk tracked down the makers of the film, who revealed that some distinctively professional techniques had been used: it had been shot on 35mm film, not something an amateur would usually do, and cost £40,000, not a sum an amateur could afford.

"Lee", who refused to give his surname, apologised for the spoof advert, which he said was released accidentally, but refused to say who funded it.

"We made the advert for Volkswagen," said Lee. "We never really intended it for public consumption. It was principally something we made to show people in the industry but it got out somehow.

"About half the work we do is for our own purpose, it is self-promotional. The ad's a comment on what's happening at the moment. People see this on the news every day," said Lee, who operates a website himself, leeanddan.com.

He said as far as he was concerned "the car comes out of it as a hero" because it stops the explosion.

The advert had received a "very positive response" on websites. Things had "gone crazy" after the ad hit the internet and its makers had even been interviewed by the New York Times, he added.

Viral advertising campaigns are used by companies as a way to avoid paying TV channels money to screen adverts, and because the unregulated nature of the internet enables adverts of dubious taste to get aired.

Last year Ford distanced itself from a viral advert that showed a Sport Ka viral showing a cat's head being cut off by a car sunroof.

But virals are also produced by creatives looking for work. A spokeswoman for Volkswagen's advertising agency, DDB, later said that it had been contacted by the duo who sent the viral to the agency.

Matt Smith, of the ad agency Viral Factory, said he thought the advert had been made as a "test" in order to get work.

"My suspicion is that it was made for a very small audience in order to get work. It's such a risky piece - it wasn't meant to be seen by a mass audience."

A spokesman for Volkswagen said the company was considering legal action and blamed the advert on "two young creatives who are trying to make a name for themselves".

"We don't take these sorts of risks with our advertisements. We regard ourselves as honest and respectable."

 

GERMANS "SICK OF NAZI REMINDERS"

Germans "sick of Nazi reminders"
The Times (of London)
January 16, 2005

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1442127,00.html

Most Germans would prefer to forget the Holocaust and are tired of hearing about Nazi crimes during the Third Reich, according to a poll released just before the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, writes Justin Sparks.

Some 62% of the 3,000 people questioned by researchers from the University of Bielefeld agreed they were "sick of all the harping on about German crimes against the Jews".

Most said they wished to consign their country’s Nazi past to the history books. Well over half also thought there were too many foreigners living in Germany.

The poll horrified Lord Janner, a spokesman for British survivors of Auschwitz. "It's appalling," he said. "It raises fears that the current generation are not ready to pass on the history and lessons learnt from those events to their children."

Political analysts believe the findings reflect a growing feeling among younger Germans that they have atoned sufficiently for their grandparents' crimes and now have the right to bury the past. Their attitude has been fuelled in part by books and documentaries showing the destruction caused by Allied second world war bombing raids.

"This trend began with revisionist historians telling Germans they were really the victims of the war rather than its perpetrators," said Abraham Cooper, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The poll also highlights anti-Israeli feeling in Germany. More than two-thirds said they believed that Israel was waging "a war of extermination" against the Palestinians.

 

HIZBOLLAH THREATENS UK SUICIDE ATTACKS

Hizbollah threatens UK suicide attacks
By William Tinning
Glasgow Herald
January 20, 2005

www.theherald.co.uk/news/31855.html

Hizbollah, the hardline religious group, yesterday threatened to carry out suicide attacks in London in an attempt to kill a UK-based Iranian exile television presenter said to have made insulting comments about Islam.

Manouchehr Fouladvand, on the US-based Farsi language MA-TV, has been accused of mocking Moham-med and the Koran. There have been demands in Iran for the broadcaster's death.

Mojtaba Bigdeli, spokesman for Iran's Hizbollah group, warned the British government must ban the satellite channel, run by Iranian exiles, within 30 days or face the consequences. "After one month, our commandos will carry out suicide attacks in London against the shameless presenter of the channel. He has crossed our red lines by insulting our prophet and Islamic values."

Mr Bigdeli said Hizbollah had the approval of leading clerics to kill him.
The case echoes the Iranian fatwa against the author, Salman Rushdie. The government has hinted at special protection for Mr Fouladvand.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.