A new Volkswagen ad intended to be run during the Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013, is causing controversy because of its supposed cultural insensitivity.
The "Get In. Get Happy" spot features a white man, supposedly from Minnesota, speaking in a fake Jamaican accent at his corporate-looking office — while what it sounds like Jamaican music plays in the background.
"No worries man, everything will be all right," says the man in a visible good mood while his stressed out and less happy co-workers complain in the office's crowded elevator, vending machine and pantry areas. "Ya man," he adds.
But while the commercial may be a well-intentioned attempt to contrast the supposed joy brought by the product (some co-workers end up adopting the fake Jamaican accent by the time they ride their friend's Volkswagen) with the boring and stressful environment of corporate offices, some are taking issue with the representation.
"This is so racist," said Barbara Lippert, editor-at-large of MediaPost.com and NBC's Today "ad expert," while the Wall Street Journal's Jamaican-born Christopher John Farley said the fake Jamaican accent stroke him as "Jar Jar Binks-ish" — and The New York Times’ Charles Blow described the ad as "blackface with voices."
However, according to The Atlantic, VW America Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney defended the ad by claiming, "we did our homework to make sure we weren't offensive so we did some research to make sure we didn't go in a direction we didn't want to go."
Watch the ad below; do you think it's racist?