Volkswagen released their Superbowl Ad yesterday to the tune of ” Get Happy.”
Featuring a tall white gentleman by the name of “Dave” he walks through his office using a Jamaican accent trying to cheer people up. The vibe of the commercial is that if you buy a Volkswagen Beetle, you will be happy- right? There are no fireworks, there is no over the top visuals, just a simple day at the office. After watching “Minnesota Dave” walk through the office spreading cheer, it makes any office worker hope that there was at least one person in their office like Dave. “Minnesota Dave” turns daily tasks into a peaceful happy moment, even offering to take co-workers on a drive in a Red Volkswagen Beetle. “Julia, Turn that frown the other way around,” he says to a worker with piles of paper up to her head. Everyone is offering cheerful comments after experiencing the Volkswagen Beetle: “don’t be cloudy on a sunny day,” says the gentleman in the backseat.
On Tuesday, The Daily Mail reported on the criticism the ad is receiving. “Didn’t anyone look at this?” Barbara Lippert, editor-at-large of Mediapost.com, said on “Today.” “This is so racist. There is no link to Volkswagen… they are showing happy people with black accents.” Speaking on CNN’s “Starting Point,” New York Times columnist Charles Blow compared the spot to “blackface with voices. I don’t like that.”
Meanwhile, Volkswagen has defended the ad. Executive vice president and chief marketing officer Tim Mahoney said the company consulted with 100 Jamaicans and used a dialect coach to ensure the accuracy of the actors’ accents. “We obviously did our homework to make sure that we weren’t offensive,” he said.
Looking through some comments posted around the internet (including the Today website , Daily Mail article, and Huffington Post) people seem to be very supportive of the ad and continue to be “happy”:
“Just returned from Jamaica.It captures the uplifting, friendly character of the people of Jamaica. If only our culture could have this vibe” – Darylann
“Racist? I think not. If anything it gives the message that the people in Jamaica are very happy people.” –Guile Williams
“I’m a proud Jamaican, born and bred. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. This isn’t even close to being offensive because it hasn’t an iota of any negative stereotypes, anything demeaning or derogatory. I think America has become too hypersensitive and has taken political correctness too far! I could understand if the ad were mocking Jamaicans, or highlighting or perpetuating some unflattering imagery of our people. It simply doesn’t. What the ad seeks to do is to evoke the “no problem”, easy going, viscerally gratifying happiness that Jamaicans and vacationing in Jamaica has branded itself on for many years. The Jamaica Tourist Board itself ran ads with the slogan “Jamaica, No Problem!” for a while. Jamaicans will be the first to tell you that, despite the nation’s impoverished economy, the land is green and the sun shineth (which is the symbolism behind the green and gold in our flag), and the people have a wealth of optimism. By the way, Jamaicans love their VW’s with a cult-like passion! Big up Jago (Excuse me Americans. Jamaicans know what I’m talking about here).” –Jago Man