By on January 15, 2012

Do you live in or near a Cuban community? Drive a Mercedes? Noooooo! Leave it in the garage. Put a tarp over it.

The Cuban community hates Mercedes and Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche, despite his Cuban-sized mustache. Casus belli: At a presentation at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Zetsche praised the virtues of car sharing. Car sharing?

Zetsche said:

 “Some colleagues still think that car-sharing borders on communism, but if this is a revolution, then ‘viva la revolucion!’.”

As he said it, a wide-format picture of Che Guevara popped up behind the Daimler Chairman. Che’s trademark beret was decorated with Daimler’s three-pointed star trademark. It had replaced the usual red star.

The audience laughed politely. The Cuban community got its colorful knickers in a twist. Several people in Miami told the Miami Herald that they will boycott Mercedes.
The Huffington Post weighed-in on the matter and, huffy as always, called the matter “The Crass Marketing of a Sadistic Racist.”

The same writer continued in a right-wing blog that Che Guevara “was a psychopath whose sadistic lust for blood was not easily quenched. He killed for pleasure.”

While Forbes snickered about “That famous German humor,” Automotive News [sub] opined:

“In fact, the Guevara image was far from the most offensive prop used by Mercedes during the program.

Before Zetsche arrived on stage, Mercedes simulated a series of text messages on the stage screen that used expletives and made reference to late-night partying.”

That, of course, won’t stand out as something noteworthy in Miami’s Cuban exile community.
Daimler apologized for the Guevara reference, but not for the colorful language.
The speechwriter who had the glorious idea is probably looking for new employment.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

57 Comments on “Cubans Furious At Mercedes Over Che Guevara Joke...”


  • avatar
    darkwing

    The Germans’ takeaway seems limited to “brown people be crazy, yo”.

    Somehow, I think the reaction would be rather different if, say, one of the big electronics conglomerates were to go on stage at CES and reference Germany’s sordid past in an effort to sell more tablets.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      “In 1939 Adolf Hitler revolutionized mass-distribution of information by ensuring there was a radio in every home.”

      “Today we’re following his example, at 4G Speeds!“

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    It’s an egregious mistake. I know a number of Jewish people who choose NOT to drive German cars.

    I have three friends whose families left Cuba because of Guevara and Castro. The upside to their stories is that all three of their families have done well in America, even though their parents didn’t speak English when they got here with literally only the shirts on their backs, and they learned English while succeeding in America.

    None of them drive Mercedes-Benzs. One drives a Porsche 911, and the others drive Lexii.

  • avatar
    dejal

    So, it’s the speechwriter and not the butt clown who goes by the street name of “Dr. Z” who is at fault? The speechwriter didn’t say it, the butt clown did.

    From Forbes:

    “Nobody could seriously accuse Mercedes-Benz, of all companies – a conservative pillar of the West German Establishment if ever there was one – of espousing Castro-style communism, but while this mini-controversy lasts, there you have it.”

    Why not? I guess no one is responsible for the words and image and they just magically appeared and someone forced the good doctor say them.

    He said them, he meant them. Because he didn’t say he was sorry, I’m going to keep assuming he agrees with the words that came out of his pie hole.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      You can’t expect people without much conscience to act responsibly before or after they say such stupidity. Respect for those he cares nothing about is above his pay-grade.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    For a look at what the Cubans could conceivably share, here’s a look at 2012 Cuban traffic…
    http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/3-the-stars/stars-in-traffic/1373-january-2012-stars-in-traffic-cars-of-cuba-2012-a-time-machine-to-the-1950s.html

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      I checked out that link. Wow.

      The only thing that gave away that those were recent pics was the (i’m assuming) Chinese neo-shitbox parked next to the teal car (I think its a mid-50′s Crown Vic, but not sure).

      BTW, i’m unaware of how the whole car ownership thing works in Cuba, but it should be noted that as a communist country, they have old iron that US communists are slowly taking away from us. Just sayin…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It was obviously a joke. There are a few folks in Miami who need to get their irony detectors adjusted.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The author of this article lives in a previously truly communist country turned into a more free capitalist country through open trade with America.

    Open trade with America would also turn Cuba into a more free capitalist country, but unfortunately the twisted panty activists centered in Miami use their single issue voter status in a swing state to prevent that.

    If the whiny sanction activists that keep Cuba in poverty and communism out of pathetic bitterness are mad at Mercedes then I wish Mercedes well.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Those who think of El Che as a good guy must be annoyed too.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      The same ones who decry Capitalism while buying Che-themed merchandise without a single tingle of Irony?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The same ones who decry Capitalism while buying Che-themed merchandise without a single tingle of Irony?

        That is, in fact, the joke.

        The great revolutionary Che Guevara has been appropriated by free enterprise and turned into a commercial product. His face has become forever associated with hipsters and t-shirts.

        The idea of what is arguably the world’s best branded luxury car company using a symbol of socialism for a marketing campaign is actually pretty damn funny. But some folks aren’t sharp enough to get the joke, and companies need to understand that some members of their audience need emoticons, neon lights and flashing signs to know that not all things should be taken literally.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        “If you have to explain the joke, it was never really a joke.”

        -The Joker

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I enjoy annoying the card-carrying hipsters downtown by sporting a sweater emblazoned with the iconic image of Che Guevara – who is further portrayed as touting a t-shirt festooned with Bart Simpson’s likeness.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        “The idea of what is arguably the world’s best branded luxury car company using a symbol of socialism for a marketing campaign is actually pretty damn funny.”

        In an era where governments staffed by formerly Che worshipers either directly own, or with regulations control, ever more of peoples economic output; it’s just another sign of the times.

        While Che may have been more hands on than some in his use of government power to blow away undesirables, that probably had more to do with lack of reliable drone tech than anything else. Come to think of it, I wonder who’s in charge of the regime with the most prisoners currently tucked away on Cuba without a proper trial, Obama or Fidel’s successor?

        About 25 years ago, a sales manager at a Mercedes dealership only half jokingly told me (I am, and look, Northern European descent) “only Jews still drive Cadillacs, and that’s only for historical reasons…..” I thought about that when Lexus cleaned the Germans’ clocks a few years later, before deciding to go into hibernation.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        In an era where governments staffed by formerly Che worshipers either directly own, or with regulations control, ever more of peoples economic output; it’s just another sign of the times.

        Hyperbole much? Some of you are taking this just a weeeeee bit too seriously…

        Che has become a brand. What the Coca Cola brand is to beverages, Che’s visage is to hipsterism. Except whereas Coca Cola gets to take the profits from its brand, the Cubans aren’t being paid a dime for their version of the Apple logo.

        I would bet that the average owner of a Che t-shirt doesn’t know much about him, other than the fact that he was some sort of rebel who looks good on articles of clothing. At this point, he’s not really much of a political symbol.

        This whole thing is just loaded to the gills with irony. Its enough to make me want another espresso.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Surprise, surprise — the flaming lefty can’t carry the murderous Commie’s water fast enough. Yet something tells me that this whole “relax, it’s a big joke” schtick would fall apart in a hurry if we were talking instead about an icon of the far right.

        Let’s see here — a photo of W in Crawford, used to sell chainsaws? Or Cheney hawking “Interrogations for Dummies”? No doubt we’d be hearing all about how, unlike Che, these things are *important*…blah blah blah…

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        the flaming lefty can’t carry the murderous Commie’s water fast enough.

        You must be great fun at parties. Care for more tea?

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Pro tip — if you want a line like that to carry weight, don’t spend half your time here delivering pompous lectures about the Important Issues ™, like telling us all for the millionth time how Americans are too stupid to buy what you want them to buy. Or something to that effect — to be honest, I usually tl;dr halfway through your drivel.

        But please, keep up the charade. It’s mildly entertaining.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        like telling us all for the millionth time how Americans are too stupid to buy what you want them to buy.

        You must be confusing me with someone else. (You see, I tend to be the one around here who makes the “customer is always right” arguments.)

        Still, your kneejerk responses illustrate the business problem. While I’m pretty sure that Mercedes didn’t have you as a customer to lose, there are others who are their customers who share your lack of literacy skills and who wouldn’t know irony if it kicked them in the face. Not a bright marketing move on Daimler’s part; they ought to know that some folks just aren’t real smart.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Is “you’re poor and dumb” really the best counterargument you could come up with? LOL!

        Have a good night, sweetheart.

      • 0 avatar
        A is A

        “But some folks aren’t sharp enough to get the joke”

        The “joke” is just as “fun” as it would be with Hitler in place of Guevara.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The “joke” is just as “fun” as it would be with Hitler in place of Guevara.

        You know, I have to keep reminding myself that you folks on the right are simply not programmed to understand nuance and ambiguity. You prefer sharply opposed black-and-white positions, and have real difficult discerning shades of grey. You can’t help it, you’re just wired that way.

        Across dozens of behavioral studies, conservatives have been found to be more structured and persistent in their judgments and approaches to decision-making, as indicated by higher average scores on psychological measures of personal needs for order, structure and closure. Liberals, by contrast, report higher tolerance of ambiguity and complexity, and greater openness to new experiences on psychological measures.

        http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v10/n10/full/nn1979.html

        Aside from that difference in magnitude (the Cuban revolution doesn’t compare directly to that whole death camp/ World War II thing), the Guevara situation is not particularly comparable because Guevara has become a pop culture icon. As a cultural symbol, Che more closely resembles Woodstock and the VW Beetle than he does the dude with the funny bit of hair under his nose.

        In any case, you missed my link to Hipster Hitler, so here it is again. http://hipsterhitler.com/comics/christmass/ As it turns out, it really is possible to mock both Hitler and hipsters simultaneously. And to add further ambiguity to the mix, it seems in case to be the hipsters who are doing the mocking, so the exercise is ultimately self-deprecating, which itself is ironic on a couple of different levels.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Projection personified — a diatribe about nuance and openness, opening with a blanket condemnation of “you people”, in response to a post a mere sixteen words long.

        I foresee a bright future for this one.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Joke, bad speechwriter or whatever. Any company that promotes murderous thugs in advertising will not receive my business.

    I would expect such a flagrant gaff from some Chinese JV, but not Mercedes-Benz.

    Herr Doktor Zetsche is a fool for letting some ‘look at me, I have a degree in advertising’ Occupy Wall Street-type jackass talk him into such an idiotic ad campaign. And car sharing?! Really?

    I guess Daimler doesn’t want to sell cars on volume anymore (or apparently at all).

    EPIC fail.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

  • avatar
    carguy

    I remember a NZ farmer and WWII vet who refused to buy Japanese products because of their treatment of the prisoners they used to build the Burma railway. I also know someone who refuses to buy American products because they consider America to be an imperial nation. There is also no shortage of members of the Jewish community who shy away from German cars. Its all empty gestures as every country that makes cars has some bad deeds in their history. Time has moved on and most that were involved are dead and no boycott will ever undo history – all it will do is needlessly keep people from moving on and working for better relations in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Sooooo.. it’s the Cuban’s fault for being pissed that Mercedes is shamelessly exploiting fame of a man who was at least half the reason why so many Cubans can’t live in Cuba anymore with this tactless and tasteless display?

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Anyone ever hear of Native Americans refusing to buy domestic (American) vehicles? Seems like they’d have just as much justification as the WWII vets who refuse to buy Japanese or Jews who refuse to purchase German-made (or Fords, for that matter).

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    If Mercedes wants to feature mass-murderers in their advertising, they could go into the archives and find PLENTY of photos of Hitler riding in and driving their vehicles. Classy move Dr. Z (sarc)

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    China is a previously truly communist country turned into a more free capitalist country through open trade with America.

    Open trade with America would also turn Cuba into a more free capitalist country, but unfortunately the twisted-panty activists centered in Miami use their single issue voter status in a swing state to prevent that.

    If the whiny sanction activists that keep Cuba in poverty and communism out of pathetic bitterness are mad at Mercedes, then I wish Mercedes well.

  • avatar
    Mathias

    I think this is stupid and offensive in the same way that calling Obama a “communist” is offensive.

    This sort of nonsense is vile because it is disrespectful to the victims of these regimes.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The funny thing about Guevara is that the people he drives into fits of apoplectic rage would be totally okay with him if, you know, he’d engaged in wars but been on their side of the ideological divide.

    Then they’d get to call him a freedom fighter.

    But yes, I think it’s pretty funny that a guy whom Castro found too radical is now being used, in image at least, to hock luxury automobiles. That people are getting offended by this (and by people I don’t mean wannabe-communists) shows just how humour-impaired they are because, y’know, the point is that it’s mocking everything Guevara stood for.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Fortunately, there are those who don’t share your flexible and ideologically motivated set of scruples.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Actually, a lot of people share it, they just don’t seem to notice.

        Put it this way, if you replace Che Guevara or Fidel Castro with Augusto Pinochet or a pre-1990 Saddam Hussein, or any number of other tin-pot dictators who just happen to be on the “correct” side of the ideological divide, it’s hilarious (horribly so, though) how many people just check their moral outrage at the door.

        I don’t like Che, but in the context of freedom fighters/murdering bastards he’s not all that high up on the list and not really a lot worse than any number of people who are lionized for the same actions (Giuseppe Garibaldi comes immediately to mind, but this archetype is pretty common in revolutionary conflict). So please, spare me the moral outrage until such time as we can unbundle ideology from morality.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Again, no — you just assume that, because you act that way, everybody else does, too.

        No doubt you also think that rednecks only started worrying about the deficit when the black guy got in charge, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      the point is that it’s mocking everything Guevara stood for.

      If you find yourself in Krakow, you might appreciate this bar: http://www.cracow-life.com/drink/pubs_cafes_details/60-Propaganda

      The place is full of old Soviet kitsch. (It’s been awhile since I was there, but when I saw it, they had stacks of those archaic, low-tech Russian TV’s and radios that looked as if they had been made in the 19th century.) Fun place for a drink.

      The locals get the joke, and they had to live under communism. It’s sort of funny to see that those whose closest experience with communism is watching Red Dawn on DVD can get all bent out of shape, while those who had to deal with the bastards can take it all in stride.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Mercedes should remember Clarkson’s “turn signal salute” and his “ein fanbelt that will last a thousand years” comment when they consider stunts like this. Germans didn’t find that funny.

    • 0 avatar
      FJ60LandCruiser

      So the only time the official carmaker of the Nazi party has a sense of humor is when they’re not the butt of the joke… Way for them to keep it classy.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Man, I’d hate to be around if some of you were exposed to “Team America: World Police”. Your heads would be spinning trying to figure out all the different people and groups for whom you should feel offended.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      The difference between this and ‘Team America: World Police’ is that ‘Team America: World Police’ was actually funny.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        No, this is funny.

        The difference is that the subtlety is totally lost on people who froth at the mouth because their reaction to anything left-of-centre is almost Pavlovian, while Team America is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the head.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverInfidel

      Well, thank God those ignorant, frothing, Pavlovian Cubans have psarhjinian around to explain subtlety to them.

      I’ve always found it annoying when starving peasants sailing in homemade rafts can’t decipher a clever joke.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    All I see here is a sad/pathetic attempt by a big corporation to be fun and cool and hip. First, they pick a subject bound to stir up very strong, negative feelings among a lot of people. Then, after you lose that large demographic, you upset the real leftist Che fans by prostituting him to sell your super-expensive cars.

    This is a hamfisted cultural blunder taken to a rare level.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      I doubt they’re too concerned about losing sales to ‘real leftist Che fans’ as that’s a pretty small group, most of whom wouldn’t buy a Mercedes made this century, even if it did run on vegetable oil. Maybe back in the 60s or 70s when those 300D wagon veggie oil burners were new, before it became clear to anyone paying any sort of attention what sort of guy Che is. But on the base point of ‘a subject bound to stir up negative feelings’, yeah, pretty much.

  • avatar
    Brunsworks

    This looks like a job for Jeremy Clarkson!

    Seriously, though, putting aside the cultural slights here, how did Dr. Z expect a giant picture of Che Guevara to sell cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      how did Dr. Z expect a giant picture of Che Guevara to sell cars?

      It’s a promotion for an application called “CarTogether”, which allows Mercedes drivers to find others who’d like to have a lift. Daimler was promoting it in conjunction with other in-car tech that they are introducing.

      The software is real, of course, but the introduction certainly involved a tongue and a cheek. The subtext is that they would like to keep the regulators at bay, based upon the premise that the industry can help to reduce our resource usage without the need of help from central planners. (Ironic, it is.)

      It’s basically just a software tool to promote peer-to-peer carpooling. I suppose that it might come in handy for those pinko Marxists who are sufficiently motivated by a hatred of American capitalism to drive a $50,000 car in the HOV lane.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57356428/mercedes-channels-che-guevara-for-car-tech/

  • avatar
    abdel.bolanos

    How stupid this man can be! I am cuban and I felt very angry when I read this post. A car campaign based on a Cuban National Hero? what was this guy thinking. I bet he has never been in Cuba or even read something about cuban history. Can you imagine a campaign with the picture of Adolf Hilter with the slogan ‘Alle Wagen Gut’. “Ja” that is what I’m talking about. National heroes are for study and admire not for make money from them.

  • avatar
    Alwaysinthecar

    There appears to be a lot of young people posting here I who don’t seem to know the history of Cuba.

    Fulgencio Batista (the dictator ousted by Castro’s revolution) was a bloodthirsty thug who suspended the 1940 Constitution and revoked the liberties of the citizens (except for the wealthy landowners), censored the press, and indulged in mass executions. And it was all supported by the US and corporate conglomerates (esp the sugar industry.) Inevitably there had to be a revolution, and with all the rich Cubans running off to Miami leaving their property behind (and the only reason they’re bitter about Castro.) But Batista made Che Guevara and Fidel Castro look like cute little puppies by comparison. Batista was the Pol Pot of Cuba.

    If Castro hadn’t embraced Communism (the Soviets jumped on the opportunity to support the overthrow of Batista), the US would have eventually supported Castro. They clearly knew that Batista was an out-of-control ruthless dictator despite his welcomed support of US corporations (and the US mafia) doing business in Cuba. But in the end, Batista and Castro were simply the puppets for the real fight which was between the US and the Soviet Union.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India