[lg policy] Volkswagen Superbowl ad and Jamaican accent

Kate Brett kbrett at CAMBRIDGE.ORG
Wed Jan 30 16:57:44 UTC 2013


Has anybody else noticed that quite a lot of young 20-something White 
British men seem to be adopting Jamaican accents and mannerisms, even in 
cities (like Cambridge) where there is not a large Caribbean community? My 
son and his (white) friends are all, like, 'Yah, Man' amongst themselves, 
and listen to a lot of reggae, scat etc. etc. This is because they enjoy 
and admire it. VW's marketing people are onto something, I'd say. I've not 
seen the ad, but my guess is that they are trying to show an uber-cool 
white dude, admired by his peers, and his coolness shows in his adopted 
accent...

I wonder whether ads in Jamaica showing cool black guys portray them with 
a Florida accent? I wish I'd looked out for it on my recent visit (we were 
complimented on understanding the patois - thanks maybe to hours of 
hearing our son's music?!). There was certainly a huge amount of US TV 
advertising on air there.

Kate Brett



From:   Harold Schiffman <haroldfs at gmail.com>
To:     lp <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
Date:   30/01/2013 16:21
Subject:        [lg policy] Volkswagen Superbowl ad and Jamaican accent
Sent by:        lgpolicy-list-bounces at groups.sas.upenn.edu



Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY8:14p.m. EST January 29, 2013

VW ad about a happy-go-lucky white guy who tells office mates to be
happy in his Jamaican accent has been criticized by some.

No, Darth Vader ? spurned by Volkswagen for this year's Super Bowl
commercial ? hasn't concocted cultural revenge. But the force is
suddenly hitting VW, with vocal critics claiming its big game spot ?
this time featuring a white, Midwesterner who feigns a Jamaican accent
? is racist.

VW insists it will broadcast the ad during Sunday's game on CBS.
"There is no thought to pulling it," says Tim Mahoney, chief product
and marketing office at Volkswagen of America. It began showing online
Monday and since then, has been a social-media buzz saw ? with most
folks liking it, but some critics totally trashing it.

Some would like them to be joined by this VW ad about a happy-go-lucky
white guy who tells his office mates to be happy in his Jamaican
accent. "It's pretty horrific," says Ricki Fairley-Brown, president of
the multicultural marketing agency Dove Marketing. "Why do they have a
white guy from Minnesota faking a Jamaican accent?"

Even more troubled by the spot is Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, chief
hispanic marketing strategist at Walton Isaacson, an African-American,
Gay/Lesbian and Hispanic agency. "What happens in this ad is that the
culture becomes a punch line, and that is offensive."

Pop cultural guru Barbara Lippert is not amused, either. "It made me
uncomfortable to see all of those white people in an office setting
doing this," she says. "I found it offensive."
Even then, she says, after offering a similar commentary on NBC's
Today Show, "I've heard from thousands of people telling me to lighten
up." An online polling of Today viewers concurred with that sentiment.
More than 93% said they like the spot.

So does Wykeham McNeill, Jamaica's minister of tourism and
entertainment. "We view it as a compliment," says McNeill. "People
should get into their inner Jamaica and get happy." He's even
negotiating with VW for some sort of co-branding.

As for the actor who stars in the spot, well, he's just hoping it gets to 
air.

"People are entitled to their own opinion," says Erik Nicolaisen, the
33-year-old actor. But for a second opinion, he asked his
brother-in-law, who is from Kingston, Jamaica. "He loves it."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2013/01/29/volkswagen-super-bowl-commercial-racism/1874213/


-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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