VW's Super Bowl ad featuring 'Minnesotan' criticized for being "like blackface with voices" [VIDEO]
This 'Minnesotan' doesn't look Jamaican, but he sure talks like it.
Volkswagen's new Super Bowl ad is set in a Minnesota office building, yet features a white office worker speaking with a thick Jamaican accent.
The idea is he's so enlivened by his new red Volkswagen that he suddenly adopts Bob Marley's worldview, telling his co-workers on a bleak Monday: "No worries, Mon! Every-ting will be all right."
Here's the footage:
The ad has been savaged by critics, including the New York Times's Charles Blow, who described it as "like blackface with voices."
More savagery comes via a USA Today report:
"It's pretty horrific," says Ricki Fairley-Brown, president of the multicultural marketing agency Dove Marketing. "Why do they have a white guy from Minnesota faking a Jamaican accent?"
Even more troubled by the spot is Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, chief hispanic marketing strategist at Walton Isaacson, an African-American, Gay/Lesbian and Hispanic agency. "What happens in this ad is that the culture becomes a punch line, and that is offensive."
Pop cultural guru Barbara Lippert is not amused, either. "It made me uncomfortable to see all of those white people in an office setting doing this," she says. "I found it offensive."
But casual viewers seem to think critics are making a mountain out of a molehill. A Today Show poll showed that more than 93 percent of viewers liked the spot.
Volkswagen has no plans to pull the ad. "That particular ad we think is really important for these times because VW is a brand that really puts a smile on your face," VW America's Tim Mahoney told CNN.
And for what it's worth, Jamaican officials also don't seem to be offended. Wykeham McNeill, Jamaica's minister of tourism and entertainment, told USA Today that he and his colleagues view the spot "as compliment."
"People should get into their inner Jamaica and get happy," McNeill added. Of course, there are ways to "get into your inner Jamaica" that are a lot cheaper (and probably more effective) than buying a new car.
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