German car manufacturer Audi may be about to enter a PR shit storm, thanks to the naming of their social media campaign in the run-up to their Super Bowl ad.

The campaign (run by Audi of America) is based around a new creation called the Green Police, who will spearhead a social media program to build interest in Audi’s ad at this year’s football showcase. The Green Police enforce ways to protect the environment, and encourage people to a better understanding of environmental issues. There’s currently a series of YouTube mock education videos as part of the program, as well as a Green Police Twitter account.

The problem is, there’s already been a Green Police enforcement organization, but not one that you’d want to be associated with. This Green Police was part of the Nazi persecution and execution of millions of Jews in the Holocaust of the Second World War.

The implications of Audi’s choice of name for their campaign could be huge, especially since Audi is a German company. The first question is obvious – didn’t anyone at Audi’s PR or advertising arm/agency do any research?

It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds and what Audi’s response will be as the connections to an unwanted history become clear, especially as today marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

What’s your take on what Audi should do next?

  • Update February 01 2010: Audi of America has issued a response to the post, which you can find here. While their response is sound, they may also wish to look at this resource from the Jewish Virtual Library vaults (if they haven’t already), or this report for further correlation. Additionally, Audi state that they researched and tested the ads prior to running them, and sought input from the Jewish community. Curiosity begs the question: if the research prior to the ad being run didn’t return any “red flags” about possible connotations to the term Green Police, why the need to seek input from the Jewish community about an environmentally friendly product?

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.

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