Is Volkswagen's Super Bowl ad racist?

The big game's first advertising controversy has arrived, and it involves former ad darling VW.

By Aimee Picchi Jan 30, 2013 1:45PM

This year's Super Bowl has revealed its first advertising controversy: a commercial from Volkswagen (VLKAY) that's coming under fire as racist.


The commercial features a white Minnesotan who suddenly starts speaking in a Jamaican accent, urging his dour co-workers to "Turn the frown the other way around." (To see the ad, click here.) The punch line? His happiness stems from his ride: a VW Beetle.

Some are finding the ad offensive, with New York Times columnist Charles Blow telling CNN, "It's like blackface with voices." Another CNN commentator said the spot reminded him of Jar Jar Binks, the maligned "Star Wars" character who was criticized as reflecting some racial stereotypes. 


The stakes are high, with this year's commercial time selling for a record $3.8 million. That means some marketers are willing to take risks in order to grab viewers' attention. After all, the game's advertisers represent a who's who of America's top brands, including M&Ms, Coca-Cola (KO) and Ford (F).Image: Watching television ( Corbis)


That the controversy involves VW underscores how even top marketers can slip up when it comes to Super Bowl advertising. The automaker created one of 2011's most beloved Super Bowl ads,"The Force," in which a boy dressed up as Darth Vader tries to use his "force" to move sandwiches, toys and laundry. (To see that ad, click here.)


VW is standing by its Jamaican accent, with chief marketing officer Tim Mahoney noting, "there is no thought to pulling it," according to USA Today


The automaker talked with 100 Jamaicans and used a speech coach to make sure the white actor in this year's spot accurately reflected the accent, Mahoney told CNN.


Super Bowl ads that go awry often have a common theme: they backfire when the marketer tries to shock or takes on polarizing issues. And, as VW has found, humor can miss the mark with some viewers.


More on moneyNOW

521Comments
Jan 30, 2013 5:31PM
avatar
Easy now. It's not "everyting alright".  It's "evryting kris".  'Ere me now, VW.
Jan 30, 2013 5:31PM
avatar
So there are no white Jamaicans? and all Black people have Jamaican accents? No? Then quit trying to find every little thing that doen't fit your white people stereotypes racist. That's racist!
Jan 30, 2013 5:29PM
avatar
So when a black man uses correct english, as a white man I should be offended?  Idiots.
Jan 30, 2013 5:29PM
Jan 30, 2013 5:28PM
avatar
Um....I'm in Jamaica, mon. Even the white Jamaican's speak this way! Respect.
Jan 30, 2013 5:28PM
avatar
This is not one of VW's best efforts, but I did not find it racist.  This is just a few and the media looking to blow this into something it is not.  Now if they had used a Jewish accent or characterization, then there may have been a case.  Get off VW's back and watch the ad.
Jan 30, 2013 5:27PM
avatar
Not racist. It's just really really stupid.
Jan 30, 2013 5:27PM
avatar

NOT AT ALL...

just another PC problem that has gotten way too way far out of hand...

whoever came up with this pc ****...needs to be locked away along with all you ****s who subscribe to it....

PC is ****!!!

Jan 30, 2013 5:27PM
avatar
oh brother who cares...all I see is a commercial that sucks
Jan 30, 2013 5:27PM
avatar

Really? Who wrote this?
Let me tell you why this isn't racisct. Here's why:

A black person of Jamaican Parents born & raised in, lets say the country America.

Would that make him Racist against whites if here were heard acting out in an American Accent while clearing being seen in Rasta attire?

Picture the commerial the other way around people... Black guy acting like a Hippie or something.

I'm white and I wouldn't consider the opposte scenario Racist at All.

What do you guys think?








Jan 30, 2013 5:27PM
avatar

You know what is racist? A media and government that pushes an agenda to ban guns because 20 white kids are murdered in a school but make no mention of the over 500 (mostly minorities) murdered in Chicago! I guess they figure they will make themselves feel like they are doing something by putting more laws on people that actually obey laws!

Jan 30, 2013 5:26PM
Jan 30, 2013 5:26PM
avatar
The ad is the OPPOSITE of racist.
It begins with a guy talking who looks part oriental, part black, maybe part native American.
Then there's a white woman, a couple white guys, and another woman in a meeting, etc.
Let's see, who'd they forget...oh yea, a gay guy, a pedophile, a lesbian, an Arab and an Eskimo.
Sure SEEMS racist, TO AN IDIOT!
Jan 30, 2013 5:26PM
avatar

WTF…YOU have GOT to be joking! Keep it up…shout racism at the least little thing that could even REMOTELY be defined as racism. Remember the “boy [ref. young male of any ethnicity NOT RACIST] who cried wolf”? The Boy Who Cried Wolf is one of Aesop's Fables and is derived the English idiom "to cry wolf", meaning to give a false alarm.

 

The more folks “cry wolf” or shout racism about the least little minor thing…the more you dilute the meaning and destined to draw less and less attention.

 

NOW children, let’s review the definition of the word [n.] racist [adj.] racism:

 

1.

the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and thatthis endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others

2.

abusive or aggressive behaviour towards members of another race on the basis of such a belief

Jan 30, 2013 5:25PM
Jan 30, 2013 5:25PM
avatar
That's it......I'm done..... as a Nation we will never be able to move forward as long as we allow, every complaint from every crackpot equal voice....As a Nation we do have to have a conversation (not confrontation) about the things we allow to separate us.....we have real problems in this country and we need real solutions, but as long as we stay on this path of crying Wolf, nothing will get done....What happens now....someone talk about Racism and how wrong it is....someone makes a more egregious racist comment here and gets people sidetracked.....someone points out spelling and grammatical errors (17th ranked education system in the World)....someone discusses the plight of the Caucasian male....someone discusses how difficult it is being black in America....how about we take a Cue from my fave Novel and Movie of all time "To Kill A Mockingbird" and just for a second, see it from someone else's point of view and have a logical conversation were we listen to both sides.....never mind someone go get Nero his fiddle.... the Empire is crumbling
Jan 30, 2013 5:24PM
avatar

I'm black, and I didn't find this offensive...which is surprising because I'm always looking for ways to "stick it to THE MAN!

 

However, if someone is genuinely offended by this ad, who are we to tell them to "get over it"? Respect their feelings and move on.

Jan 30, 2013 5:23PM
avatar
if anything, it's "nationalist", not racist.
Jan 30, 2013 5:23PM
avatar
Truth,
Name me one black nation that can feed it's self.

Truth,
90% of Blacks are killed by the hands of Blacks 

Truth,
In America since the civil rights amendment was passed the intelligence of america has fallen to the point america has the intelligence of a third world nation , Global ranking 17th, Global ranking in math 37th. Integration is what has destroyed every advanced nation that has ever existed.

Truth,
 America will never come back because of white trash race mixing with blacks which produces children which can never have advanced intelligence.

Truth,
America will fail and it was planned out.

Truth,
 Black's are the most racist people and will not stop until the total destruction on the white race.

Truth,
 The white race will die out with in 100 years.

Truth,
I support assured mutual destruction when the white race dies out all humanity must end , We must Plan for an earth with no humans. It is the most compassionate thing we can do.

Truth,
Blacks are the lowest form of humanity and our afford to save them has destroyed the the greatest nation that ever existed humanity would have been better off if evolution was allowed to happen and they died off.


Jan 30, 2013 5:23PM
avatar
Wow, has society become so thin skinned?
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?

MARKET UPDATE

[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices closed out the month of August on a modestly higher note. The Russell 2000 (+0.6%) and Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) finished ahead of the S&P 500 (+0.3%), which extended its August gain to 3.8%. Blue chips lagged with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) spending the bulk of the session in the red.

The final week of August represented one of the quietest stretches for the stock market so far this year. The first four sessions of the week produced the ... More

MSN MONEY'S