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Bunnies Gone Wild

WWW- Volkswagen of America has launched a new advertising campaign about its “Rabbit” vehicle using Playboy “bunnies” and the appeal of “promiscuity” and “fornication.”

Guaranteed to get attention, but is it attention the company wants?

“Thinking about purchasing a Volkswagen? Think again,” says a boycott campaign announcement from the American Decency Association. “Will you buy VW? We will not!”

The organization has posted the contact information for the carmaker to encourage people to call, write or use e-mail to express their concerns.

“The leadership at VW of America should be embarrassed,” one person who contacted American Decency said.

“We definitely wanted to keep the male promiscuity of the rabbit in there,” said Rob Strasberg, of MDC Partners, the Miami agency working on the ad plan, told Adweek.

The Adweek report said a coming television commercial features black-and-white Rabbits driven around in what could be perceived as a mating dance.

“The big thought was getting VW to bring the Rabbit back, because we love it. It’s playful and fun. It wasn’t a leap to go from rabbits to fornication and multiplying,” Strasberg said.

The company, which made the boxy hatchbacks called Rabbits during the 1970s and 1980s, is returning the car to the North American market this year and teamed up with the long-time publisher of porn, making a connection between the magazine’s rabbit logo and a logo of a running rabbit for the car.

According to promotional materials for the car company, the Volkswagen Rabbit logo “mimics its distant cousin, the official Playboy Rabbit Head logo” in the new ad on the back cover of the September magazine.

The back cover “showcases” models Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson of E! Entertainment Television’s “The Girls Next Door.”

It was produced “using special simultaneously shot front and back cover images,” the company said.

“The Playboy opportunity was a great chance to unite two famous and iconic brands,” said Kerri Martin, the car company’s director of brand innovation.

The television show, which also has been targeted by various issue groups concerned about morality in the United States, claims to give “viewers an inside look at life at the Playboy Mansion.”

An auto industry website noted that the “unique and rather playful advertising tie-in is interesting.

“We’re not sure how effective VW’s marketing strategy is going to be, but merely wonder if the new Rabbit/Playboy connection may turn off some potential female customers,” the site said.

The company even shipped copies of the magazine to car company sales managers.

“Enclosed please find your September issue of Playboy compliments of your friends at VW. We hope you’ll enjoy it cover to cover. Especially the back cover,” the recent letter said.

The American Decency Association website addresses issues involving pornography and cites a study noting confessed mass killer Ted Bundy discussed before his death how he became addicted to pornography through soft-core magazines and believed his violent outbursts were prompted by that addiction. He eventually was executed in Florida.

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