Volkswagen’s new Super Bowl ad got some extra attention this week when USA Today reported that some people began calling the spot “racist” because one of the actors mimics a Jamaican accent.
The German car company initially responded to complaints by claiming that they had thoroughly vetted the ad, even running it by “100 Jamaicans” and hiring an accent coach to make sure the actor’s portrayal was on target.
The new VW Beetle spot features a white man speaking with a Jamaican accent and using some figures of speech that might be considered Jamaican vernacular. “The ad shows a worker from Minnesota trying to cheer up co-workers in an accent often associated with black Jamaicans, because he has been made so happy by his Volkswagen,” the Associated Press explains.
As the commercial began appearing on some preview sites, a social media storm started brewing. Volkswagen’s Tim Mahoney reacted to the initial uproar by stating – “There is no thought to pulling it.”
On Monday of this week, VW seemed to be pleased with the early buzz on the ad. They were even tweeting about it.
So is it racist? CNN played it recently and then discussed, and host Soledad O’Brien seems to like it:
NBC had a variety of opinions on it.
On Tuesday morning, the “Today” show showed the ad and debated the issue of its appropriateness with “media expert” Barbara Lippert. Despite VW’s initial insistence that they are not going to pull the ad, Ms. Lippert predicted that it would not air during the Super Bowl.
Not everyone thinks the commercial is racist. TheRoot.com — a site that says it covers “black news, opinion, politics and culture” — has posted the story. A quick review of the comments section doesn’t appear to show support for the theories that the commercial is racist.
It also appears that opinions on Twitter are supporting VW.
As of Wednesday morning, Volkswagen has not pulled the spot that they have paid more than $7 million dollars to run during the Super Bowl.
What do you think Volkswagen should do? Keep the ad or pull it?