Some brands stir up controversy every year by coming up with a “banned” Super Bowl commercial that was never supposed to air during the game anyway. The idea is to get people interested in what commercial was too racy for a network to accept nearly $4 million to air it.
Other companies—like Volkswagen this year—stumble into controversy.
For Volkswagen, controversy comes in the form of this commercial:
Some people have taken issue with the dorky white guy speaking in a Jamaican accent.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow told CNN
that the commercial was “blackface with voices.” Wall Street Journal
editorial director Chris John Farley compared the commercial to the widely hated Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks.
This morning, USA Today
is asking whether the ad is racist.
The German carmaker is certainly not shying away from it, evidenced by a promoted tweet
linking to the commercial. Further, they came out with the following statement:
“The concept of Volkswagen's ‘Get Happy’ advertisement is to put a smile on your face, and continues to build upon the heritage of ‘human stories, told simply.’ The protagonist in the commercial is intentionally meant to portray an upbeat perspective and intelligence as he influences his coworkers to ‘Get Happy.’ His accent is intended to convey a relaxed, cheerful demeanor while encouraging a positive attitude as the antidote to a tough Monday. Everyone can relate to being in an office and being ground down by the pressures of work and ‘Get Happy’ brings an optimistic, bright spirit into an otherwise mundane day.
A rep from VW’s marketing team also told Business Insider
, “We actually talked to about 100 Jamaicans in the research, and we had a speech coach on site to make sure it was authentic as possible.”
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