The new Volkswagen Super Bowl ad, “Come On, Get Happy!” which previewed this week in advance of the game, has ignited an online shit-storm around our favourite advertising hot button issue – racism.
Watch the commercial and then let’s talk.
The charges here are that this is a stereotyped view of Jamaicans, which portrays them as happy-go-lucky simpletons. Critics suggest that white people mimicking black people is “insensitive and offensive”.
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I’m all for healthy debate around racism in advertising. But with comments like those, it’s a wonder businesses even have the nerve to advertise in the first place. Someone, somewhere, is going to be all over your case no matter what you do.
This ad does not portray Jamaicans in a poor light, quite the contrary. It offers a view of Jamaicans as being the light of the planet. Has there ever been a more positive depiction of any nationality in advertising?
But I’m a white guy and I will get knocked for being insensitive to the people who are actually affected by the portrayal.
Like this Jamaican woman quoted in the National Post: “It certainly caught the spirit of Jamaican people. We are a happy, positive people, and I believe the commercial was made in a very positive manner to capture the essence of Jamaica!”
Lawyers and human rights groups, line up to the left.
Have a view, supportive or contrary? Please do share it. All are respected on this blog.
There, I got through the entire post without saying “Irie, mon!” once.
I wanted to avoid the backlash.