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Volkswagen ad with gay couple targeted by homophobic attacks – DiversEM

Front of Volkswagen Polo car with LGBT flag covering the hood
Volkswagen publication with gay couple goes viral on the networks and receives homophobic attacks (photo: Instagram/Reproduction)

An advertising campaign, carried out by Volkswagen do Brasil, entered the trending topics on Tuesday (10/05) due to the volume of homophobic attacks generated. The post that the company made on Twitter on Friday (06/05) went viral. The image shows a gay couple in front of a Polo model car accompanied by the caption “Do you know what evolved along with you? The Pole. What was already good got even better, with much more security and technology”.

The publication is part of the Diversity and Inclusion agenda of the German automaker, which had already aired a video in 2021 of the same campaign, which was criticized at the time and went viral again on WhatsApp this week. The comments range from criticisms of the gay couple being the protagonists, statements by some users that they would not buy more cars from the brand or that their cars would be devalued due to advertising, to comments and assemblies of a pejorative nature.

Some of the homophobic attacks showed montages with the car’s gearbox with only the “r” option, and the sexualization of accessories. Some Twitter users even claimed that Volkswagen advertisements in the 2000s were from the time when the automaker still knew how to advertise, referring to the promotional video of the Gol model with a naked woman in front.

“Difference enriches, respect unites. Volkswagen do Brasil celebrates sexual and gender identity diversity. Promoting Diversity & Inclusion is one of the strategic pillars of the brand”, declared Volkswagen in a note sent to the State of Mines.

“We have the responsibility to continue learning how we can contribute to the fight against any form of prejudice, as we consider it essential to reconcile differences for the construction of a fair society for all. Regarding the interaction with users, offensive and disrespectful comments are duly deleted from our pages”, concludes the automaker.

Campaign broadens buying audience

Lucas Lauriano, professor at the ISEG School of Administration in Paris, France, believes that advertising expands the brand’s audience, which increases dialogue with LGBTQIA people. The professor developed a doctoral study in which he analyzes the impact of discussions on social networks on the work of LGBTQIA employees in a company in the automobile industry, which operates in Brazil. At work, the researcher chose not to reveal the name of the company for a better scientific analysis. The request of State of Mines he analyzed the Volkswagen do Brasil campaign.

“When Volkswagen features an LGBTQIA couple, it demonstrates that cars are not just for straight men. It is worth noting that advertising does not diminish the issue of masculinity, but shows that cars are not just for straight men”, says the researcher. He points out that, by focusing on a minority, contrary to what conservative sectors claim, the company expands the range of consumers.

In 2018, the company analyzed by Lucas began the process of change to make the corporate environment more diverse. At the time, the company only had indicators of the presence of women in management positions.

“The automobile industry is very masculine and heteronormative. Many employees of the company felt oppressed and had to adopt heteronormative behaviors in the choice of gestures, speech and clothes”, says the professor.

Lucas considers the Volkswagen campaign bold because the automobile industry is very masculine, but very necessary to contribute to the discussion on diversity. “Whether it’s a risk or not, it makes a lot of sense in the diversity path that the company is following internally”, he evaluates.

The researcher considers that the campaign is a marketing strategy, but demonstrates consistency with the company’s desire to adapt to the new times. In his estimation, negative comments shouldn’t cause the mara to back down. “This was well thought out before. They think a lot about the reflections on sales and the brand image before carrying out a campaign”, he says.

The researcher recalls that diversity is an intranational guideline for the brand. “No sa Volks do Brasil”. In Germany, the multinational’s country of origin, this path was already outlined. “The tendency is to increase internal and advertising diversity. I don’t see the possibility of retreating”, he concludes.

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