Commentator calls Volkswagen's Super Bowl commercial racist

New York Times columnist: '"I don't like it all'

Published On: Jan 30 2013 05:07:56 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 29 2013 04:41:01 PM EST
VW ad

Volkswagen's one-minute commercial set to air Sunday during the Super Bowl has stirred up controversy.

In the German carmaker's spot, Dave from Minnesota sports a thick Jamaican accent to brighten up a dull workplace environment. He spouts upbeat slogans from reggae songs. He takes his co-workers for a ride in a red Volkswagen and soon they're brainwashed as well, saying "Chill" and "Respect" to their boss.

"That's the power of German engineering," the voice over says, in conclusion.

(Scroll to the bottom of this article to view.) The ad has been accused of racism by some.

"I don't like it all. It's like blackface with voices. I don't like that," New York Times columnist Charles Blow told CNN.

The criticism has become more prominent, if not necessarily more widespread, in the hours since. In response, VW has said it talked to 100 Jamaicans during the research process, and has released this statement to AdWeek:

"The concept of Volkswagen's 'Get Happy' advertisement is to put a smile on your face, and continues to build upon the heritage of 'human stories, told simply.' The protagonist in the commercial is intentionally meant to portray an upbeat perspective and intelligence as he influences his coworkers to 'Get Happy.' His accent is intended to convey a relaxed, cheerful demeanor while encouraging a positive attitude as the antidote to a tough Monday. Everyone can relate to being in an office and being ground down by the pressures of work and 'Get Happy' brings an optimistic, bright spirit into an otherwise mundane day."