Jamaica embraces controversial Super Bowl ad - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Jamaica embraces controversial Super Bowl ad

Posted: Updated:
  • Viral StoriesMore>>

  • Bodies of 2 men found dead in DC

    Bodies of 2 men found dead in DC

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 3:34 PM EDT2014-04-16 19:34:36 GMT
    Police in the district are investigating after the bodies of two men who were found dead Wednesday.
    Police in the district are investigating after the bodies of two men who were found dead Wednesday.
  • Caught On Tape: Intruder creeps through home, lurks over crib

    Caught On Tape: Intruder creeps through home, lurks over crib

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:08 PM EDT2014-04-16 17:08:32 GMT
    FOX NEWS INSIDER - A home surveillance system caught an intruder lurking through a home while a family slept. At one point, the male intruder is shown in a child's room while a two-year-old boy is asleep
    FOX NEWS INSIDER - A home surveillance system caught an intruder lurking through a home while a family slept. At one point, the male intruder is shown in a child's room while a two-year-old boy is asleep
  • Pope gives a lift to 2 kids in St. Peter's Square

    Pope gives a lift to 2 kids in St. Peter's Square

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:56 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:56:42 GMT
    VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has given a lift to two lucky kids during his general audience in St. Peter's Square. A particularly jovial Francis hopped off his white, open-air car Wednesday to greet a group of fifth graders from Perugia who presented him with a T-shirt from their school. Seemingly joking, Francis asked if any of them wanted to take a spin through the square. "Me! Me! Me!" they yelled. Francis picked 11-year-olds Livio Bastianelli and Davide Maria Bianchi and the two hop...
    VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has given a lift to two lucky kids during his general audience in St. Peter's Square. A particularly jovial Francis hopped off his white, open-air car Wednesday to greet a group of fifth graders from Perugia who presented him with a T-shirt from their school. Seemingly joking, Francis asked if any of them wanted to take a spin through the square. "Me! Me! Me!" they yelled. Francis picked 11-year-olds Livio Bastianelli and Davide Maria Bianchi and the two hop...
KINGSTON, Jamaica -

Jamaica is embracing a controversial Super Bowl commercial that depicts a white office worker from the U.S. Midwest feigning the Caribbean island's lilting patois accent to display a cheerful, upbeat outlook.

Some U.S. critics have described the pregame Super Bowl ad from Volkswagen of America as offensive and culturally insensitive, apparently seeing the commercial that hit the web on Monday as an echo of segregation-era depictions of white people posing as happy-go-lucky black folk. Jamaica's population is predominantly black.

On NBC's "The Today Show," Barbara Lippert, editor-at-large at mediapost.com, said she believed the commercial was racist because it was "just saying that black people are happy." New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow said during an appearance on CNN that the advertisement was like "blackface with voices."

But the charged reaction has met with puzzlement in Jamaica, which has very visible white, Asian, Middle Eastern and mixed-race minorities that also often speak with the local accent.

The island's government has endorsed the commercial, which shows an ebullient white worker from the U.S. state of Minnesota trying to cheer up glum colleagues with a Jamaican patois accent because he is so happy with his Volkswagen. At the start of the commercial, he paraphrases the lyrics to late reggae icon Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" as he tells his co-workers: "No worries, mon. Everyting will be all right."

The company's website continues the theme, offering a clip of Jamaica's Jimmy Cliff singing "C'mon, get happy."

On Wednesday, opposition lawmaker Edmund Bartlett said the television ad "is a perfect illustration of Jamaican culture's global reach and our uncharacteristic penchant to be happy even in challenging situations."

Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill said he believes the Super Bowl commercial has the potential to increase tourist arrivals.

"I think this is a very creative commercial which truly taps into the tremendous appeal that brand Jamaica and its hospitable people have globally," McNeill said in a late Tuesday statement.

At a Kingston bus stop, office assistant Jennifer Blake said she saw the Volkswagen advertisement online and thought it was amusing to see an American trying to speak patois.

"I'm not sure why people would think it was offensive or anything," she said Wednesday, adding that many of her friends have shared links to the commercial on social media.

Nearly all islanders, regardless of class, can speak and understand the country's patois. Jamaica's official language is standard English, but many people cannot speak it.

Those who speak standard English fluently, mostly people from the middle and upper classes, tend to use patois for emphasis or to affect a down-to-earth persona.

A representative for Volkswagen of America said Wednesday morning that the company has no plans to pull the Super Bowl spot.

"As of this morning, we received no consumer calls or complaints about our ad. In fact, we've only received positive endorsements," Scott Vazin, a company spokesman, said in an email.

------

On the Web: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player--embedded&v=9H0xPWAtaa8

  • Photo Gallery Slide ShowsMore>>

  • PHOTOS: 2014 DC Cherry Blossoms

    PHOTOS: 2014 DC Cherry Blossoms

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 2:48 PM EDT2014-04-09 18:48:00 GMT
    The cherry blossoms are out in downtown D.C., and there's nothing like them!  Check out some of the best photos we've received from viewers, and from our FOX 5 crew here. 
    The cherry blossoms are out in downtown D.C., and there's nothing like them!  Check out some of the best photos we've received from viewers, and from our FOX 5 crew here. 
  • PHOTOS: Opening Day at Nationals Park!

    PHOTOS: Opening Day at Nationals Park!

    Friday, April 4 2014 12:13 PM EDT2014-04-04 16:13:40 GMT
    Baseball is OFFICIALLY back at Nationals Park, and of course FOX 5 was there to get it all started!  Check out pics from the Nats home opener vs. the Atlanta Braves here!
    Baseball is OFFICIALLY back at Nationals Park, and of course FOX 5 was there to get it all started!  Check out pics from the Nats home opener vs. the Atlanta Braves here!
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices