Volkswagen removes billboards from 3 cities after complaints
MIAMI - Volkswagen said Friday it will remove billboards in New York, Los Angeles and Miami after receiving complaints that a word used in an advertisement was offensive to Hispanics.
The ad for the new GTI 2006 had a photo of the sports car accompanied by the words "Turbo-Cojones." Cojones, which means testicles in Spanish, has become a casually used term for boldness or guts in English but has never lost its more vulgar connotations in its native language.
A billboard in the Miami neighborhood of Little Havana generated complaints, and the company decided to remove it Wednesday, said Steve Keyes, a Volkswagen spokesman. Volkswagen AG has received no complaints for its billboards in New York and Los Angeles but decided to pull them anyway.
Ana Roca, a professor of Spanish and linguistics at Florida International University, said the English usage of the word "doesn't have the same power it has in Spanish."
"People who are reading it in a Spanish neighborhood, it will have a different effect for them ... because they realize the real connotation," Roca said.
Keyes said the original billboard was not intended to offend anyone. Instead, it was an attempt to convey that the GTI is a "high-performance sports car," he said.
The billboards will be replaced with two ads, with one saying "Here today, gone tamale" and the other "Kick a little gracias."