The German luxury carmaker debuted an ad campaign last week to honor 60 years of the Porsche 911 and sell its new $290,000 Porsche 911 S/T model. It included a video advertisement showing the evolution of the popular car. The video, which was posted on Porsche’s website, depicts a woman driving the vehicle across Lisbon's 25 de Abril Bridge.
As the car makes its way across the bridge around the 44-second mark, the 289-foot concrete pedestal on which the iconic Cristo Rei statue sits can be seen, but the statue itself – an imposing 92-foot statue of Jesus Christ standing with his arms outstretched blessing the city – is mysteriously absent.
The statue was erected in the 1950s as an expression of gratitude that the people of Portugal survived World War II on account of the country’s neutrality during the conflict. Inspired by the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it has a viewing platform that offers incredible views over the city. It overlooks the Tagus River, which divides the city of Lisbon from Almada.
A user of X, the social media platform that was previously known as Twitter, first drew attention to the matter, writing: “Hey, @Porsche, why did you erase the statue of Jesus Christ from your video filmed in Lisbon?”
Multiple users with local knowledge pointed out that there was no need for the company to film the commercial from the angle they did if they wanted to avoid the depiction of Jesus, making the choice to film it there and then digitally remove the statue seem even more deliberate and baffling. Why would they include the platform and edit the statue out when so many people were likely to notice its absence and criticize them? Many people called the company out for being too woke and called for boycotts. Some insisted they would never consider buying a car from the brand after the fiasco.
After the raft of online criticism, Porsche changed course and uploaded a new version that includes the statue of Jesus. The company said in a statement: "In an early version of a film created in Europe, the Cristo Rei Statue does not appear. We are truly sorry and can fully understand the hurt this has caused. This film has been removed."
Porsche never provided an explanation for why the earlier video had been edited to take out the statue. However, they pinned a note above the new video on YouTube explaining that “in a previously-uploaded version of the 911 S/T launch film, a landmark was removed. This was a mistake, and we apologise for any offence caused. Your comments on this video were appreciated.”
Porsche is not the only company that has found itself at the center of controversy for editing references to Christianity in recent years. The German supermarket chain Lidl, which is popular throughout Europe and has stores in the U.S., came under fire in 2017 after they airbrushed crosses off the top of the dome of the Anastasis Church in Santorini, Greece, on the packaging of their Greek food range.
Lidl said that the move was not intended as a statement, telling the media that they avoid using religious symbols out of a desire to “maintain neutrality in all religions.”
The company apologized for removing the cross after social media outrage, noting: “We are sorry for any offence caused by the artwork on our Eridanous range. We can confirm that we will be revising the design as soon as possible.”
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