Companies spend more than the gross national product of some small countries on their Super Bowl ads. The last thing they want to do is offend people, but a couple of high-profile ads may have crossed the line. Volkswagen wants us to believe their cars can make you happy. To that end, they’ve employed Dave, a Midwesterner who speaks in a faux Jamaican accent. His co-workers are understandably befuddled, one even asking: “You’re from Minnesota, right?”
After taking a ride in his Volkswagen other co-workers share Dave’s island happiness, even his presumably stuffy boss.
Jamaican tourism minister Wykeham McNeill says the ad is fine, and thinks it encourages everyone to get in touch with their “inner Jamaican.” I’m not sure I’d know where to get in touch with my inner Jamaican. I’ve never met the guy.
Coca-Cola’s ad features a Mad Max style desert race for a drink of the caffeinated beverage. Among the participants is an obviously Arabian looking sheik on a camel. Viewers are asked to go to a website and vote on who should win the race. The sheik isn’t even an option, and in the commercial appears to be having problems getting his camel out of the starting gate.
Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told Reuters the ad fits into age-old stereotypes. Arab-Americans are more diverse than the sheiks, showgirls and terrorists seen on TV, he said.
Neither Coke or Volkswagen is bowing to any pressure to pull the ads before Super Bowl Sunday. Last year’s game pitting the New York Giants against the New England Patriots brought in 111 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV program in history. Every advertiser wants a piece of that audience. You could argue the Coke and Volkswagen ads have already done their jobs, since we’re talking about them two days before the game itself.
Readers, what’s your take? Are these ads funny or foul?
Read [E! Online]