Audi's Super Bowl Ad Blunder: 'Green Police' Have Nazi History

Its seems that Apple isn't the only company that picked an unfortunate name to promote a new product recently. German luxury carmaker Audi has introduced a number of mock public-service announcements featuring the "Green Police" -- forest green-uniformed officers who give tips about saving energy. The Green Police campaign will get its widest exposure in Audi's Super Bowl commercial during CBS's (CBS) Feb. 7 telecast, according to AgencySpy.The problem? The Green Police was a name used in Nazi Germany to refer to the German Order Police, or Orpo, who were given the moniker because of their green uniforms. The Orpo weren't merely traffic cops, however. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, one battalion was central in sending Jews, Poles and Gypsies to concentration camps.

While the mock PSAs are humorous, with a shtick that leans more toward Reno 911! than Schindler's List, it's certainly never fortuitous for a German company to bring up reminders of the Third Reich. Still, it's likely that most U.S. viewers won't connect the "Green Police" in their history books with the ones in Audi's Super Bowl ad promoting its A3 TDI clean-diesel vehicle. An Audi spokesman didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

This will mark Audi's third year running a commercial during the Super Bowl, the most expensive advertising slots on TV. Though the price for a 30-second spot has reportedly fallen to between $2.5 million and $2.8 million from 2009's record-high $3 million, a Super Bowl commercial is still a major investment for any company: Not only must the company buy the airtime, but the cost of producing a Super Bowl commercial can reach $1 million.

Reproductive Rights and Gay Dating

Given that the Super Bowl will take place in a just over a week, it's unlikely that any company will be making changes to its commercials now. Still, the lead-up to the game has been unusually full of controversy on the advertising front. Take CBS's decision to accept an advocacy ad from the Christian group Focus on the Family, which is being protested by women's groups including the National Organization of Women. The protesters say the ad is "attempting to use the Super Bowl to further ramp up the vitriolic rhetoric surrounding reproductive rights." (CBS told DailyFinance Thursday that it has no plans to reverse its decision.)

And then there's gay dating site, which according to my DailyFinance colleague Jeff Bercovici, is asking CBS to review a 30-second commercial for acceptability to air during the game. Though the commercial time for the telecast is sold out, Mancrunch told Advertising Age that its request isn't a stunt to make a political statement.

No matter how the football game plays out, viewers will certainly find much to talk about on the advertising front after the telecast.
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