|(Super Bowl) Volkswagen stands by ‘blackface’ ad
Volkswagen of America said it will go ahead with a Super Bowl ad that some critics are calling racist because it depicts a cheerful white office worker speaking in a Jamaican accent.
Titled Get In, Get Happy, the 60-second spot has been seen more than 614,000 times since it went up on the German automaker's YouTube account ahead of Sunday's American football championship in New Orleans, AFP reports.
“No worries, mon, every-ding will be all right,’’ Dave, the commercial's Beetle-driving lead character from Minnesota, tells his grumpy workmates. “Turn da frown dee other way around.’’
“I was shocked... This is so racist,’’ said Barbara Lippert of Mediapost.com on NBC's Today show, while Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist who is black, told CNN the ad was blackface with voices.
Mark Gillies, manager of product and technology communication at Volkswagen of America, told AFP the ad – with a soundtrack from reggae giant Jimmy Cliff – had been tested before “a diverse audience’’ that included Jamaicans.
“This is the ad you will see’’ on Sunday, he told AFP. “The plan is to air the ad with the Super Bowl. That hasn't changed since it aired [on YouTube] yesterday.’’
He added: “The message of the ad, which some people seem to have lost, is that you drive something like a Beetle, and it brightens your day up.’’