VW’s latest advert has been banned after viewers claimed it was racist but how does it compare to the worst ads of 2020?

Creating a memorable advert is often a tricky business.

In search of results, companies will often turn to famous faces or well-known songs to help their adverts stick in the mind.

Volkswagen’s latest commercial, which has recently been running on its social media channels, has gone for a slightly different approach.

However, while the advert may well get stuck in your head, it’ll be entirely for the wrong reasons.

VW under fire for ‘racist’ advert

Volkswagen’s latest advert appeared on social media platforms such as Instagram.

It shows a giant white hand flicking and picking up a black man to stop them from getting near the car on-show.

What’s worse is that the ad appears to show the black man being flicked into a nearby doorway which is signposted “Petit Colon” which, when translated, means ‘little colonist.’

And if the advert couldn’t get any worse, the caption that pops up at the end, ‘Der Neue Golf,’ has also caused a stir as the first letters to fade into view can be read as ‘neger’ which is a variant of the n-word in German.

Unsurprisingly, VW has quickly apologised for the advert, withdrawn it and has supposedly launched an investigation into how the ad was approved and published.

Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

How does it compare to these contentious commercials?

The VW advert is not the only one to cause a stir so far in 2020.

While the adverts below may not necessarily have been banned, reaction to them has certainly been mixed, to say the least.

Lynx Africa Squirrel

To celebrate Lynx Africa’s 25th birthday, the deodorant brand took viewers on a nostalgic trip through the 90s and early 2000s.

For the most part, the ad is just a typical Lynx commercial but the final second of the ad, which features an overly amorous squirrel caused quite the stir when it was aired during family programmes such as Britain’s Got Talent.

The shot of the eager squirrel has since been removed from TV versions of this advert.

Swisse Me Smoothies

The 2020 Swisse Me Smoothies advert was one that put viewers off fruit as, while it didn’t show anything graphic, it heavily implied sexual or pornographic imagery.

It’s not something the high-end smoothie company refuted either as the ad is part of their ‘Food Porn’ campaign.

Unsurprisingly, the advert has only been allowed to air post-watershed in the UK.

Tena Lady Ageless

Tena Lady’s Ageless ad campaign isn’t one that’s been banned but it certainly caused quite a stir when it hit screens.

The ad features a number of scantily-clad over-50s women as they discuss how age has not dulled their confidence, senses or sex lives.

While some branded the advert ‘too much,’ others called it ‘inspirational and empowering.’

Burger King plant-based Whopper

In early 2020, Burger King fell foul of the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) as adverts for their vegan Rebel Whopper, similar to the one below, were found to be misleading.

Why? Because while the ads claimed the patties were 100% plant-based, they were in fact cooked on the same grill as ordinary beef patties.

Amazon Before Alexa

Annual Super Bowl adverts are a huge deal in the US and an ad slot during the half-time break of the Super Bowl can cost advertisers upwards of $5 million.

It’s strange, therefore, that sections of Amazon’s Before Alexa advert were banned prior to airing.

The sections that didn’t make the Super Bowl cut see an Egyptian mummification where toilet roll has to be added to a hieroglyphic shopping list, WWII peace negotiations go wrong after the Germans are called ‘trouser poopers’ and also a Richard Nixon spoof is cut short to censor a White House employee saying “I ain’t deleting sh-” regarding the Watergate scandal.

While the above adverts all feature contentious areas in one form or another, they’re incredibly tame compared to the implied meanings behind VW’s latest effort.

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