VW accused of hiding Nazi past in Super Bowl advert

By Matt Oliver

The German car giant Volkswagen has been accused of glossing over its Nazi past in a multimillion-dollar advert for the Super Bowl.

In an advert televised alongside the biggest American football game of the year, the company recalled its 75 years of history in the US.

A Volkswagen Beetle inside a delivery tower at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.
A Volkswagen Beetle inside a delivery tower at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.Credit: AP

It starts with the first VW Beetle arriving in New York by ship in 1949, with the vehicle then attracting attention from pedestrians in the streets as it drives past.

The ad, called “An American Love Story”, then shows other popular models, including the Type 2 campervans, the Rabbit, New Beetle and the latest electric-powered ID.4 SUV.

However, the brand’s decision to begin the nostalgic history lesson in 1949 has raised eyebrows among some social media users.

VW was originally set up 12 years before that date under Adolf Hitler as part of efforts by the Nazi regime to produce cars that ordinary Germans could afford.

During the Second World War, the company switched to producing vehicles for the German army and used thousands of slave labourers from concentration camps.

After the war, it began producing again under British Army occupation. The company’s Type 1 – later renamed the Beetle – went on to become the world’s best-selling car in the 1970s.

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“Watching VW try and pretend their cars weren’t originally designed as family vehicles for Hitler’s vision for the German family, all the while playing Neil Diamond, who is Jewish, is the most surreal things [sic] I’ve seen in years,” one user on posted on Twitter.

Another wrote: “What a weird marketing tactic for #Volkswagen to take in their #SuperBowl2024 commercial. Why would you focus on the history of VW when only about a decade before the commercial’s timeline starts (1949), VW was founded by the Nazis and used forced labour from concentration camps??”

“Volkswagen wants to make sure you know their history starts in 1949 and not a SINGLE YEAR EARLIER nothing to see here definitely nothing notable for VW before 1949,” a third user added.

Others described the ad as “surprising” and accused VW of “ignoring” its past prior to 1949.

Not everyone criticised the commercial, however, with many people saying they enjoyed it.

“Great commercial from #VW #SuperBowl,” one person tweeted.

Another person wrote: “The @VW ad was awesome!! My parents had a bug.”

Ad Age, the marketing news outlet, noted it was the first VW Super Bowl ad in a decade and gave the promotion five stars, finding that “it does a great job of combining a sweeping legacy statement with a product tease – and in such an uplifting way.”

“One of the most heartwarming, feelgood spots of the night.”

Advertisers pay a reported $US7 million ($10.7 million) for just 30 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl.

The huge sporting event attracts more than 100 million viewers, making it one of the premier television moments of the year.

Volkswagen has been approached for comment.

The Telegraph, London

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