Volkswagen is no stranger to Super Bowl ads, but the company decided to abandon its hit “Star Wars” themed spots and go in a different direction for the 2013 contest.
The German automaker came up with a one-minute ad entitled “Get Happy,” which attempts to convey the positive feeling that owning a VW can bring.
An office worker shows up in the elevator on a drab Monday morning with infectious enthusiasm, using a Jamaican accent to spread cheer and bring good vibes to his coworkers.
Unfortunately, the advertisement has drawn criticism from a number of observers, largely for its use of a dubbed Island accent on “Dave,” a chipper white man from Minnesota that the piece centers around.
Here are some of the things that were said about the piece (h/t the Daily Mail):
Barbara Lippert, editor Mediapost.com, on the Today Show noted, “It's just saying, ‘Black people are happy.’ Didn't anyone look at this? This is so racist.”
Jamaican-born Charles Blow of the New York Times was also displeased, announcing on CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien: “I don’t like it all. It’s like blackface with voices. I don’t like that.”
Not all feel that way, as the Today Show host Matt Lauer opined: “I thought, if you buy this car, it puts you in a happy place. And what's happier then the memories we all have of being on beautiful islands on island time. That's the way I took it.”
“Get Happy” is certainly a more controversial spot than anything VW has put out in recent years, and it’s mildly surprising that the company chose not to air one of their two backup advertisements in place of it.
However, the company claimed that they talked to more than 100 Jamaicans about the content and had a speech coach on hand during the filming, which strongly suggests they aren’t worried about any sort of negative public relations hit by airing this.
It’s certainly going to draw a lot of different reactions, so feel free to leave your personal opinion in the comment section.