Volkswagen distances itself from suicide bomber viral ad

LONDON - Volkswagen and DDB London are distancing themselves from a hoax viral commercial for the VW Polo, which features a suicide bomber.

The ad plays on the established tagline for Volkswagen's Polo model, "small but tough". It shows a man in fatigues setting off in his Polo. He arrives outside a restaurant and pulls out a trigger. However, when he detonates the bomb, a flash is seen inside the car but the car itself does not explode. The strapline appears at the end.

The campaign is the work of a duo known for their spoof advertising, called Lee and Dan. The pair run a website, LeeandDan.com, but the ad does not appear on the site at the time of writing. They have worked on a string of legitimate ads including Ford StreetKa, BP and Casio G-Shock, among others.

Dan, from Lee and Dan, said: "The ad got out accidentally and has spread like wildfire. 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 offence."

Volkswagen stressed that the spot, which has been doing the viral email rounds this week, was made without any involvement from the company whatsoever. DDB London was also not involved in the spot.

While viral advertising can be a way for advertisers to reach customers with more edgy campaign than might appear on mainstream television, it is a medium open to abuse.

Last year, Ford was forced to distance itself from a viral showing a cat's head being cut off by a sunroof. The ad promoted the SportKa, using the premise that it was the Ka's evil twin.

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