Who Made VW
Suicide-Bomber Ad?
Professional 'viral commercial' spreads like wildfire on Internet

© 2005
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Volkswagen and its advertising agency DDB London insist they had nothing to do with a professionally made commercial making rounds on the Internet that features a suicide car-bomber whose attack is stymied when he blows himself up while his VW Polo remains intact.
However, industry analysts are raising doubts about VW's denial.
Britian's Media Guardian reported the ad's makers, a duo known as Lee and Dan, were given 40,000 British pounds, $75,000, and access to the lastest Polo model to do the shoot.
A former ad-industry practioner who now contributes to the weblog Adrants ( ) also is skeptical of Volkswagen's claim.
"No company is going to spend marketing dollars on anything just to let it sit in the closet," he said. "This was very much a planned campaign."
The ad -- which plays on the VW Polo's tagline "small but tough" -- shows a man in fatigues and a Middle Eastern keffiyeh getting in his Polo and driving to the front of a sidewalk restaurant. Still in the driver's seat, he detonates a bomb belt. A flash appears inside the car, but the vehicle does not explode. Then comes the strapline: "Polo. Small but tough."
Revolution magazine reported the ad was produced by Lee and Dan, a team known for doing spoof advertising among legitimate work.
"The ad got out accidentally and has spread like wildfire," the duo said in a statement. "It wasn't meant for public consumption. We think the spot reflects what people see in the news everyday, and in this instance the car is the hero that protects innocent people from someone with very bad intentions. We're sorry if the ad has caused any offense."
Volkswagen claimed the ad was made without any involvement from the company at all.
But the magazine said viral advertising -- spread through word-of-mouth or e-mails -- has become "a way for advertisers to reach customers with more edgy campaign than might appear on mainstream television."
Last year, Ford was forced to distance itself from a viral ad showing a cat's head being cut off by a sunroof.
Adrants comments: "Clearly someone is lying. Very likely, someone deep inside the bowels of Volkswagen and DDB gave the green light for this."
The ad weblog sees it as a case of creating "plausible deniability."
"Some renegade account exec or brand manager told a few people to go do some cool viral thing but, at the same time, to keep quiet about it. In fact, there's probably an annual budget set aside at the beginning of each year for this sort of thing and those using the budget are simply told to do with it what they choose on a timeline of their choosing."



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