VW Pulls ‘Jumper’ Spot

NEW YORK Volkswagen today said it would pull a 30-second TV spot called “Jumper,” which had drawn criticism from suicide prevention groups.

The ad, by MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, shows a man who stands on a building ledge, contemplating suicide. He abandons the notion after being informed that there are three VW models for under $17,000.

“The campaign is all about how optimism…if given a chance, can prevail. Optimism is a huge component of the VW brand. Our position has always been that the campaign was not meant to offend anyone,” said client representative Keith Price. “Another element of the brand is sensitivity and with that sensitivity, we have withdrawn the spot.”

The commercial, part of a rotation of three, first aired Monday and had been set to run until May. The other two spots (“Poet” and “Apocalypse,” which do not contain such controversial themes) will remain on air, Price said.

The commercial was decried by several groups, including the Suicide Prevention Action Network, National Alliance on Mental Illness, American Psychiatric Association, Mental Health America and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Those organizations claimed the spot is insensitive to depressed and suicidal people.

“We commend [VW] for their actions” in pulling the ad, said Robert Gebbia, executive director of the AFSP. “We need to speak out when we’re not happy, but we also need to say thank you when companies do the right thing.”

The move follows General Motors’ decision last Friday to edit a spot by IPG’s Deutsch/LA that showed a despairing assembly line robot that dreams of flinging itself off a bridge. Following an outcry by advocacy groups, the spot, which aired on the Super Bowl, was pulled from GM Web sites and the company agreed to recast the commercial’s finale. A retooled “Robot” spot will air by month’s end.

VW spent slightly less than $300 million on measured media in 2006, down nearly 15 percent from the previous year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. CP+B was awarded the business in late 2005 without a review. Havas-owned Arnold, Boston, previously handled the assignment.