Using a Che Guevara reference or image to sell a product is one rapid way to get a rise out of people -- especially Cuban-Americans, many of whom fled their homeland when the revolutionary leader helped Fidel Castro gain power back in 1959. Somehow, Mercedes-Benz's parent company, Daimler AG, overlooked this fact when it used Guevara to promote its cars in a recent presentation.
On Tuesday, the company presented a doctored image of the communist revolutionary during a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. As the Miami Herald reported, many Cuban-Americans "...expressed disgust that such a prestigious company would use the image of the revolutionary blamed for executions and implementation of communism on the island."
In a bizarre twist, the image, which was presented by company executive Dieter Zetsche, showed Guevara wearing the Mercedes-Benz logo in the center of his well-known beret. The text on the image read, “Viva la Revolucion!” While using the picture, alone, was offensive enough to some, the notion that this infamous character would actually be wearing the symbol seemed to be a bizarre endorsement of sorts.
Townhall.com's Humberto Fontova summed the use of the image up as follows: "In other words: to sell cars in the U.S., Mercedes Benz is relying on the mass appeal in the U.S. of the mass-murdering Stalinist who craved to destroy the U.S."
Daimler AG quickly apologized, but it was too little, too late. Individuals who know Guevara to be a murderer and criminal railed against the company's decision to utilize such a negative force for its benefit.
In its apology, the company backed down, writing, "Daimler was not condoning the life or actions of this historical figure or the political philosophy he espoused. We sincerely apologise to those who took offense.”
Among the offended was the conservative Heritage Foundation's Vice President Mike Gonzalez.
“Che Guevara, not to put too fine a point on it, was a psychopath whose sadistic lust for blood was not easily quenched. He killed for pleasure," Gonzalez said.
Also, Felix Rodriguez, one of three Cuban exiles who worked with the CIA to help search for Guevara before his 1967 execution, found the use of the image reprehensible. He apparently went to the Mercedes-Benz web site, where he says he commented, “I know who Che Guevara was and he was a criminal, a murderer and a person who hated the United States of America.”
What is it about Guevara and cars? Back in September 2010, we reported about a comical car race that was using him as the central figure in its logo. Bizarre coincidence? Probably. But one worth noting.
(H/T: Miami Herald)