BMW apologises for ‘offensive’ advertisement.
Image via Twitter

Missed the mark? BMW apologises over ‘disrespectful’ ad

BMW have shifted their focus on the ‘millennial’ and ‘Gen Z’ market – but is their latest ad campaign an insult to it’s African clientele?


BMW apologises for ‘offensive’ advertisement.
Image via Twitter

A BMW advertisement has received mixed reactions from the public -including radio and TV personality Anele Mdoda – and it’s all thanks to its wording targeting its black clientele.

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In ads shared on Twitter, a banner ad of the luxury brand is seen inside a mall. Featuring a black woman wearing a glamororous outfit, the tagline reads: “We are our ancestors wildest dreams”. But the word “ancestors” is scratched out, giving new meaning to the popular phrase”.

BMW have been criticised for their “racist” advertisement. Image via Twitter

The ad is part of the #GenerationJoy campaign created by agency Wunderman Thompson aimed at “targeting new luxury consumers, mostly millennials and GenZs”. 

According to a briefing on their site, the campaign also aims to “drive growth in a declining premium segment and establish relevance for #NextGenJoy”.

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But whilst BMW are targeting a new, younger demographic, its exclusion of age-old African beliefs – like ancestors – have rubbed social media users up the wrong way.

94.7 Presenter Anele Mdoda was one of the first to react to the viral ad, tweeting in response: “Dear BMW. While I have mad love for you, your ad agency does not get it. AT ALL”.

Media personality Ntsiki Mazwai added: “That advert was not ok. It was not appropriate. It was racist and I’m not ok with racism”.

Others chimed in: 

@cikymtwesi: “Haibo did they just take out ancestors like that on the AD! Why did they even put ancestors in the first place if they gonna scratch…. The disrespect!”

@Blissed_up: “It’s offensive. They could’ve just kept the word “ancestors” out of it completely.”

@NkosiGoddess: “In Africa nogal…how is this acceptable”.

@mamane_bontle: “One thing about blacks, they don’t mind being disrespected.”

On the flipside, others defended the ad, claiming that anyone who did not approve was “not the target market”.


Following the backlash, BMW issued a statement apologising to the public.

According to TimesLive, the brand originally defended the advert, claiming that it was a “conceptualised to showcase South Africa’s diversity and inclusion, and not to question any person’s belief systems”.

However BMW also acknowledged that it had offended many South Africans.

“The broader campaign was spun off into a number of smaller out-of-home executions, including the one pointed out by you. BMW South Africa understands the wording of this example might have offended fans of the brand, for which we unreservedly apologise.”