Volkswagen unveiled the 60-second commercial, which they’ll be dishing out $8 million to air during the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for the company, they didn’t receive the response that they were expecting. According to the Daily Mail, many are outraged over the German car company’s commercial, which depicts non-Black actors speaking with Jamaican accents. In the commercial, one man is so excited to be driving a Volkswagen that he gleefully walks around his office seeking to spread the cheer among his co-workers.
People have found the ad to be an offense to Caribbean people for multiple reasons. One reason being that they feel that it implies the untrue notion that all people from the Caribbean are super relaxed and never experience stress. New York Times columnist Charles Blow recently appeared on “Starting Point With Soledad O’Brien”, where he expressed his disdain for the 60-second ad.
“I don’t like it all… It’s like blackface with voices. I don’t like that,” Blow expressed
Jamaican-born journalist for the Wall Street Journal, Christopher John Farley expressed that the accents were reminiscent of Jar Jar Binks, the widely contended Star Wars character who spoke in a Caribbean dialect.
“It’s off-putting to see the Island spirit used as a punchline… The Jamaican aesthetic–shaped by such Jamaican-born notables as Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey and the revolutionary Nanny of the Maroons–is founded on positive vibration, not mindless happiness,” penned Farley.
Tim Mahoney, executive V.P. and CMO of Volkswagen America expressed to CNN that his company had done extensive research and consulted with 100 people from Jamaica and even utilized the services of a dialect coach to ensure that the accents were non-offensive.
“We obviously did our homework to make sure that we weren’t offensive,” said Mahoney.
As with anything, there are opponents to the ad, as well as people who are for it and don’t seem to find it offensive. For example, the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, who expressed that he actually enjoyed the ad.
“I thought, If you buy this car, it puts you in a happy place… And what’s happier than the memories we all have of being on beautiful islands on island time? That’s the way I took it.”
Check out the commercial on the next page. Do you find this ad to be offensive?
Photo courtesy of YouTube