Update: VW sues over fake suicide bomber ad

January 26, 2005

Dispatch Update: After a week of prevarication, Volkswagen reacts


This is a fresh article from today's Media Guardian updating this story. After a week of dithering, Volkswagen is to deal with this problem.

-- Tom Gross



VW to sue Polo bomb ad duo
By Stephen Brook, advertising correspondent
Media Guardian
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."

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