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Anti-suicide groups get Volkswagen to pull ad

Volkswagen AG said Thursday it had pulled an ad depicting a distraught man standing on the ledge of a tall building after suicide prevention groups said they were concerned about its message.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Volkswagen AG said Thursday it had pulled an ad depicting a distraught man standing on the ledge of a tall building after suicide prevention groups said they were concerned about its message.

In the ad, which first appeared on network television on Monday, the man decides not to jump after learning that Volkswagen offers three vehicles for less than $17,000.

“While our current advertising campaign is all about the optimism inherent to the Volkswagen brand, sensitivity is also a key element. With that sensitivity in mind, we have withdrawn this television spot,” Volkswagen of America spokesman Keith Price said in a statement.

It was the latest ad campaign involving an automaker to draw criticism from suicide prevention groups. General Motors Corp. said last week it would edit a Super Bowl ad that showed a quality-obsessed robot jumping off a bridge in a dream sequence after messing up on the job.

Volkswagen had not received any complaints from consumers, owners or dealers, Price said, but had received letters from suicide prevention organizations.

Jerry Reed, executive director of Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, said the organization appreciated “VW’s willingness to listen to and address our concerns regarding the ad.”

In a letter to Volkswagen of America CEO Frank Witter on Monday, Reed had asked VW to pull the ad before “it has a negative effect on your corporate image and trivializes a very significant public health problem.”

Price said the ad had aired on network television “a handful of times” and would be pulled immediately. It appeared more frequently on cable networks and will be taken out of the cable rotation and no longer appear in a few days.