One of two potential Super Bowl commercials advertising the new Volkswagen Beetle has been looked at as racist. The spot, which has been released early to gauge consumer response, features a White worker (“Dave” from Minnesota) mimicking a Jamaican accent.
As “Dave” goes through his day he’s heard encouraging his co-workers with the words of the late Bob Marley, saying “No worries mon! Every-ting will be alright.” The premise of the ad is to correlate driving the car with being happy, but that idea may be lost in translation.
The German car manufacturer hasn’t yet decided if the ad will be used, and since Volkswagen is expected to spend as much as $10 million for the spot, the financial risk may not pay off. “If I put this in financial terms, it would give me hives,” said VW general manager of marketing communications, Justin Osborne. “I can’t look at the zeroes I just have to look at the sum of the parts.”
In the past VW has had success running ads during the Super Bowl. The mini-Darth Vader ad in 2011 was a huge hit on YouTube with more than 12 million views, and a similar commercial run last year also did well, but the company is looking to expand. “You put yourself into a creative box if you build everything around Star Wars,” noted Tim Mahoney, chief product and marketing officer at USA Today. “We opted for a larger statement about the brand.”
Of course this isn’t the first time that a Super Bowl ad has been called racists. The casting call for a Acura commercial featuring Jerry Seinfeld was blasted for looking for an “African-American car dealer” that was “not too dark,” to star alongside the comedian.
View the VW commercial below.