Spreading positive vibrations, Volkswagen created this Super Bowl ad to promote the VW Beetle. The commercial features a white Minnesotan at work in the USA, talking in near-perfect Jamaican patios dialect in order to cheer up his unhappy coworkers.
As expected, America was immediately outraged. The ad was quickly labeled racist by the politically correct, and VW was accused of mocking Jamaican culture.
Not so in Jamaica, highlighting how different the two nations are.
Jamaica got it right.
Jamaican tourism officials very quickly (and very wisely) recognized the opportunity to turn the publicity into positivity.
“I think this is a very creative commercial which truly taps into the tremendous mass appeal that brand Jamaica and its hospitable people have globally,” said Dr. Wykeham McNeill, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and Entertainment.
In Washington, Dr. Claire Nelson, the Jamaican-born president of the Institute of Caribbean Studies, was equally enthusiastic. ”In one fell swoop, the ad directors have superimposed Jamaicans’ reputation for being hardworking — the three jobs archetype — as well as [for] our reputation for having a laid-back, positive, don’t-worry-about-a-thing disposition through the character of the Volkswagen.”
Sandals got it right too.
Adam Stewart and his team at Sandals Resorts also jumped in and wisely capitalized on the moment, creating a Jamaican version of the commercial featuring a black man touring the island and speaking in a fake German accent. “Das Jamaica” claims the very clever Sandals ad.
Jamaica’s tourism officials and the marketing team at Sandals are wise to seize the opportunity and ride the wave of happiness and positivity to send the world a message about Jamaica and it’s people. Their reaction builds on the upbeat VW message, inviting people to visit the island to share in the good vibes.
Jamaica received tremendous positive media coverage. So did Sandals. And they spent essentially nothing in order to receive it.
VW dropped millions on a Super Bowl commercial, and Jamaica turned it into a free tourism ad for their beautiful island.
What Sandals and Jamaica’s tourism department did is called “newsjacking” by author David Meerman Scott… jumping on a topical news story and giving it a spin that highlights your message, allowing journalists to cover it from a fresh perspective.
Having lived in the Caribbean and spent a great deal of time in Jamaica, I love the VW commercial.
But even more than the Volkswagen commercial itself, I love the Jamaican response.
And I love the new Jimmy Cliff song “C’mon Get Happy” that they use in both ads.
Big up VW and Jamrock! Everyting irie.
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