VW plans legal action against makers of suicide bomb ad

LONDON - Volkswagen is planning to take legal action against the makers of a spoof Polo ad that shows a Arab terrorist blowing himself up while the car remains unaffected.

Volkswagen's lawyers have written a letter to the creators, Lee and Dan, on the grounds that the ad is a misrepresentation of the Volkswagen brand, and that it brings the brand into disrepute.

Paul Buckett, head of press and public relations at Volkswagen Group UK, said that the decision to pursue legal action had not been taken lightly.

"Our overall concern is for the potential damage to the company, and we have to take some action," he said.

When the advertisement began to do the viral email rounds last week, Volkswagen initially said it was not issuing any official statement on the story, because it hoped the furore would die down. But a huge amount of coverage has forced the company to rethink the strategy.

Brand Republic revealed last week that it was Lee and Dan who were behind the spoof advertisement. In an interview, Dan apologised for any offence that the ad may have caused. He said: "The ad got out accidentally and has spread like wildfire. It wasn't meant for public consumption."

However, this has not stopped damaging speculation that the ad could have been sanctioned by VW, heightened by reports in national newspapers that the spoof cost £40,000 to make -- a great deal of money to be spent for a speculative piece meant for a showreel. Volkswagen, along with its ad agency DDB London, has firmly denied any involvement with the ad.

Dan, along with the ad's director Stuart Fryer, has dismissed claims of a £40,000 budget. He said that a figure of a few hundred pounds was more realistic.

Lee and Dan's website, which showcases other spoof and real advertisements they have created, has been taken down and replaced with a holding page at the time of writing for what is described as "essential maintenance". Press enquiries are now being referred to the PR agency Hot Cherry.

The pair work as a traditional ad team of copywriter and art director, and Dan has a background in film. He said that they were not looking for permanent work at one of the big agencies and that they were "quite self-sufficient".

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