Talk about misjudging your audience! It’s no surprise to any serious student of Che that the man and his accomplishments are not beloved by all -- or even most, depending on where you are in the world and who you ask. That makes it completely baffling, both for Che’s enemies and those who have a more favorable view, that his face would appear in a recent corporate presentation by executives promoting Mercedes-Benz.
The presentations uses a version of “Guerrillero Heroico,” the iconic Alberto Korda photo of Che that we discussed in a previous Che Guevara Talk post. In Las Vegas, the chief of Daimler’s Mercedes business, Dieter Zetsche, spoke while Che’s visage appeared behind him under the heading “Viva La Revolucion.” Needless to say, the point was to associate Che with the branding of some kind of “revolutionary” new car. But the end result? Well, let’s just say it didn’t go well -- complete with corporate apology, above.
Can you imagine a less welcoming audience for the image of Che Guevara than a room full of automotive executives in the world’s center of capitalist excess? The conservative Heritage Foundation, also quoted in the link above, posted a blog entitled “Mercedes-Benz Uses Communist Madman Che Guevara to Sell Luxury Cars.” That blog is still up, and it pretty much goes on like that. You know, it’s one thing when someone tries to exploit Che’s image to sell t-shirts, often to kids who don’t even know who he is. But to so completely miscalculate your message and use Che to do it? That’s just ridiculous.