Citroen Apologizes for Mao Ads

French automaker Citroen apologized this week to China for ads it ran in Spanish newspapers. The ads featured a version of the famous portrait of Chinese leader Mao Zedong, but had altered his stately face so that he appeared oddly quizzical.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Mao Zedong urged his followers to do many things. Mostly just to be quiet and listen to him. Certainly, he never said have a sense of humor.

And this week, a French automaker learned the hard way. Citroen pulled ads from several Spanish newspapers that showed Chairman Mao scowling over a new of their car. The text read: It's true, we are leaders, but at Citroen the revolution never stops. We are once more going to put in motion all the machinery of our technological ability in order to repeat in 2008 the successes obtained in previous years.

Despite that greatly forward ad rhetoric, Chinese officials were reportedly displeased. Chinese Daily Global Times called the ad wantonly distorted. Citroen lags well behind Volkswagen, GM, Ford and a whole host of Japanese car makers in selling cars in China.

The company apologized and issued a statement, saying: we repeat our good feelings toward the Chinese people and confirm that we respect the representatives and symbols of the country.

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