Volkswagen sticks with ad for game

Volkswagen sticks with ad for game

February 2nd, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Jonathan Browning

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Volkswagen Group of America's chief on Friday discounted criticism of its Super Bowl ad, saying it has received support from top Jamaican officials and others.

"If you look at the coverage in social media, the vast majority understand the spirit in which the commercial was developed," said VW Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning.

Jamaican Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill said he believes the Super Bowl commercial has the potential to increase tourist arrivals, according to The Associated Press.

"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 statement.

Browning, in the company's monthly conference call with industry analysts and reporters, said "a real minority" of commentators have questioned VW's "Get Happy" spot.

The commercial has drawn criticism from some as racist for the use of a white office worker with a fake Jamaican accent. Some have said the ad depicts white people posing as happy-go-lucky blacks. Jamaica's population is predominantly black.

Browning said he thinks the criticism has been quashed, adding that a "Today" show poll showed that 93 percent favor the commercial. An online poll by the Times Free Press showed 91 percent of the 705 respondents thought the ad was not racially insensitive.

Dr. Keith Richards, a UTC marketing professor, said companies advertising in the Super Bowl want to capture as much attention as possible while "leaving a good impression."

"These are high stakes," Richards said about Super Bowl spots, adding he thinks VW is going after young professional males and they'll enjoy the ad.

"It seemed like a good play," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.