For the recent 2014 Super Bowl, Volkswagen released a commercial titled “Get In Get Happy”. The commercial was of a business man with a Jamaican accent, who went through his Monday cheering people up and spreading the sunshine. Volkswagen has always had a reputation of carefree living and freedom, and their van even stands as a symbol for this idea.
This is the approach they took on their newest commercial, trying to show a man who spread the spirit that Volkswagen stands for. Though millions of people loved the commercial, hundreds had issues with it and were incredibly offended. Outraged tweets and online posts claimed the advertisement was racist and completely degrading a culture. One person from an African American, Gay, Lesbian, and Hispanic agency said “What happens in this ad is that the culture becomes a punchline, and that is offensive.”
To defend themselves, Volkswagen said that they consulted with a hundred Jamaicans and used a dialect coach to make sure they wouldn’t be offending anyone. They wanted everyone to take the ad lightly and not look into it as a racist statement, which is by no means what they intended it to be. Personally, I really liked the commercial, and thought it was funny as well as clever. Volkswagen has always had the “hippie” image, and embracing it by showing people that travel in their vehicles live a life without worry is a great marketing technique. I think it’s smart of them to hang onto this spirit, especially with the Generation Y being considered the next “hippie” generation, taking the place of our elders from the 1960′s. Positive vibes and free spirits was what the Volkswagen marketing team was trying to convey, and I definitely believe they succeeded in that.