A white Minnesota office worker speaks in a Jamaican accent in the ad.
“No worries, mon, every-ding will be all right,” Dave, the commercial’s Beetle-driving lead character from Minnesota, tells his grumpy workmates. “Turn da frown dee other way around.”
“I was shocked… This is so racist,” said Barbara Lippert of Mediapost.com on NBC’s “Today” show, while Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist who is black, told CNN the ad was “blackface with voices.”
Mark Gillies, manager of product and technology communication at Volkswagen of America, told AFP the ad — with a soundtrack from reggae giant Jimmy Cliff — had been tested before “a diverse audience” that included Jamaicans.
“This is the ad you will see” on Sunday, he told AFP. “The plan is to air the ad with the Super Bowl. That hasn’t changed since it aired (on YouTube) yesterday.”
YouTube viewers are on board.
By late afternoon Tuesday, more than 3,000 had given the ad a thumbs-up — versus a tad over 200 who disliked it.