#2. Renault Uses the N-Word
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Back in 2007, advertisers for the U.K. branch of auto manufacturer Renault devised a cutesy ploy to tempt customers to buy their cars. The company decided it could boost sales by boasting a temporary "ban" on saying no to customers. A barrage of radio and print ads pressured plump purses and wallets to empty themselves with the aid of flashy entreaties like "We Don't Have a Swear Box, We Have a 'No' Box," "For 10 Days, the Word 'No' Does Not Exist," and ...
Well, that escalated quickly.
That's right: Renault promised that they would refrain from racial epithets for an entire 10 days! Such restraint! We can't imagine how loud the N-word will echo off the walls of their dealerships on Day 11. Of course, that's not really what they were trying to say, but unless you were intimately familiar with the entire Renault ad platform, it sure read like Renault was reluctantly agreeing to hit the pause button on their own inherent racism.
The ad obviously generated a number of complaints to the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority. Renault, apparently anticipating an unfavorable judgment from the ASA and already the subject of unfavorable judgments from average citizens, decided to withdraw the N-word ad. They explained that the racial association was purely accidental. Why, their entire ad department is so unfamiliar with the concept of racism that they didn't even know slurs were a thing, and had indeed never heard of this "other N-word" before. What does it even mean -- a native person of Nigeria?
Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
"Nah, I'm pretty sure it's slang for 'vinegar.'"
#1. A German Spa Hotel Advertises a Romantic Night of Jewish Oppression
You may remember learning about Kristallnacht (translated literally as "night of crystal") in history class. It was one of the more blatantly evil actions of the German government in 1938 -- a night when Nazi thugs laid siege to Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues. Obviously Germany has come a long way since then, and the German people are a bit sensitive to anything that looks like it may be backsliding into racism or anti-Semitism. So clearly it did not go well when a German company appeared to make a snide reference to Kristallnacht in remembrance of the tragedy.
via Der Spiegel
Kristall Sauna-Wellness Park hotel stumbled into an entire tidal basin of shit when it offered spa visitors a "lange romantische Kristall Nacht," or "long romantic night of crystal" on November 9, 2013 -- also known as the 75th anniversary of the original Kristallnacht. We'd like to reiterate: Kristallnacht was not a romantic holiday. It is not now considered some kind of German Valentine's Day -- perhaps some horrible Nazis met and fell in love that first night over the flickering firelight of a burning synagogue, but that is not the kind of love you want to celebrate with a spa day.
Enraged Germans skewered the spa hotel with wordplay of their own, describing it as a "Heil Bad," referencing both the word for "spa" ("Heilbad") and the notorious Nazi salute -- plus, we guess the word "bad" was in there, too, just in case anybody missed the Nazi part. There are no winners in a pun war.
Two million died in Vietnam due to guerrilla-gorilla/Cong-Kong jokes.
The Kristall Sauna-Wellness Park was mortified by its blunder and the ensuing backlash. As an employee explained to the Jerusalem Post, they were all "ashamed of the mistake," which held no political agenda and apparently arose from a general inclination to use "Kristall" in reference to the company in advertisements. As to the oddly serendipitous timing that led them to use the phrase "Kristall Nacht" on the exact anniversary of the original Kristallnacht, well, perhaps we can all look to their event calendar manager, Judith Hitler.
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