Audi is taking some heat over the unintended connection one blogger made between the company's Green Police ad that's scheduled to debut during the Super Bowl and the Ordnungspolizei, the uniformed regular German police force when the Nazis ruled Germany. Because of the Ordnungspolizei's green uniforms, they were sometimes referred to as the green police. In the ad, Audi's Green Police arrest people for crimes against the environment, things like using styrofoam cups and not composting correctly. Drivers of the A3 TDI, though, get praised for their actions. In short, it's a Super Bowl ad.
Jeff Kuhlman, the chief communications officer for Audi of America, told AutoblogGreen that he personally talked to two Jewish leaders – Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti Defamation League, and Fred Zeidman, Chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum – about the green police ads and that they did not see a problem with the spot. Kuhlman added that:
Of course, Audi could perhaps have gone with Eco Police or Enviro Police or a bunch of other names that don't have this association and avoided the incident, but it those terms might not be available for use, either. From where we stand, it's not the best ad campaign we've ever seen, but it's also not worth getting one's eco-washed undies in a bundle about, either. After all, Israel's main arm of the Ministry of Environmental Protection in the area of enforcement and deterrence is called, you guess it, the Green Police.One thing that I think is also needed in order to put this into perspective is the issue of green police vs. Ordnungspolizei. Ordnungspolizei is directly translated to mean Order Police. It's more than just the difference between capital letters and small letters, it's official versus nicknames. And in our research not one person drew any other distinction other than "environmental".
We researched the term. We tested the ad concept with focus groups. We sought input and reaction from key organizations, including the Jewish community, and we sent out a press release that went to thousands of media, and not one reaction. I then worked again with key Jewish leaders after the blogger raised the issue, just to make sure that we hadn't missed something, and again, we were reassured that the term is not one that has historical significance, and that reactions to the term are completely in line with our intent ... environmental enforcement.