Several right wing Twitter and Facebook users including Bharatiya Janata Party Delhi spokesperson, Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, shared a nearly 15-year-old spoof video car showing a man attempting a suicide bombing, but ending up killing himself, claiming Volkswagen created an advertisement about "terrorists".
BOOM found that the video is from 2005, and a spoof, with Volkswagen then denying any link to it and also purusing legal action against the creators of the advertisement.
The video, shot as an advertisement shows a man get into a Volkswagen car and drive around the city, stop in front of a restaurant, and press a remote, which instead of causing an huge blast, just causes an explosion inside the car, killing him.The slogan, "Polo: small but tough" then appears to seemingly denote that the man was attempting a suicide bombing mission but failed and only killed him instead. The man in the video has been styled to look like a Palestinian, even wearing a checkered scarf made famous by the late Yaseer Arafat, a leader at the forefront of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Bagga shared the video with a caption claiming, ""Terrorist Commercial Ad by Volkswagen" Interesting?"
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Bagga also shared the video on his Facebook page with the same caption following which it quickly went viral.
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BOOM first ran a keyword search for 'Volkswagen Terror advertisement' and found several news articles about the same from 2005, when the video first appeared on various websites.
According to a Jan 20, 2005 article in the UK based news outlet Guardian, the video is a spoof created by a "maverick advertising wannabe". The article also quoted a Volkswagen statement denying the company's involvement in the creation of the video.
The statement as quoted by the Guardian read, "Volkswagen UK and its agencies strenuously deny that they have any involvement in the creation of a viral advertisement that has been accessible through the internet depicting an explosion taking place inside a Volkswagen Polo"
The article further quoted an investigation done by the digital newspaper wing of the site, mediaguardian.co.uk who tracked down the makers of the video. According to the story, the filmmaker identified as Lee who then ran leeanddan.com, "apologised for the spoof advert, which he said was released accidentally". The story further said, the makers run a website leeanddan.com and said they had "made the advert for Volkswagen...never really intended it for public consumption."
We ran a search for the website leeanddan.com and found that while the site has shut, an archive exists of the same where the duo describe themselves as, "recognised leaders in viral brand communications".
Subsequent Guardian stories also identified the director of the film as a Stuart Fryer. We then ran a search for the same and found a website run by Fryer where he uploaded the same video with the message, "This exploded onto the internet. Still one of the biggest ever seen viral films, this put me in some hot water at the time. Made for a mere £360 ($500), it got me signed to production companies in the UK. With some agencies loving it and some hating it, the film still splits opinions."