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Yea mon! - Gov’t, Opposition endorse VW Superbowl ad

BY CONRAD HAMILTON Senior staff reporter hamiltonc@jamaicoabserver.com

Thursday, January 31, 2013    

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TAP into your inner Jamaican and get happy. That's the advice from Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham to the thousands of people across the globe who have been reacting to a controversial commercial developed by automobile manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) for broadcast in the United States during Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday.

The commercial has been available on social media site YouTube, and has been creating a frenzy with multiple reports in sections of the international media.

The Super Bowl is the most watched annual television programme in the US and advertisers spend millions of dollars on commercials targeting the more than 100 million viewers.

In the advertisement, a white male in an office setting, uses an infectious Jamaican accent to encourage his officemates to ignore the bleak forecast and instead lighten up and be happy.

The employee used distinctly Jamaican phrases such as 'yea mon' and 'yes I', causing some of his colleagues to react with shock, while others embraced his suggestion to the point where they also end up speaking with Jamaican accents.

At one point the main character and his colleagues, who had travelled to a destination in a red VW Beetle, were told that they were three minutes late for the meeting.

But the happy-go-lucky men responded by advising their concerned-looking host not to be the "cloud on a sunny day", at which point one colleague utters 'chill' while another shouts 'respect bossman!'

The commercial has earned the wrath of some commentators who are of the view that it is racist and that it is belittling Jamaicans.

However, many others, like McNeill, are giving the production the thumbs up, saying the ad is very creative and truly taps into the tremendous mass appeal that Brand Jamaica and its hospitable people have globally.

The commercial also uses reggae icon Jimmy Cliff's new rendition of the Partridge Family theme song Get Happy.

"I believe the commercial is also a tribute to the popularity of reggae music worldwide and I salute Jimmy Cliff for being a true Jamaican ambassador through his outstanding music. I urge persons all across the globe to do exactly what the commercial portrays, which is to tap into your inner Jamaican and get happy," McNeil said in a statement to the media.

Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesman on Tourism Edmund Bartlett says he and Opposition Leader Andrew Holness view the ad in a positive light.

According to him, the advertisement is a perfect illustration of the global reach of the Jamaican culture and the Jamaican people's characteristic penchant to be happy, even in challenging situations.

He pointed out that with Brand Jamaica showcased so prominently as a "happy" destination, we will only grow stronger and better.

Bartlett is urging McNeill to move swiftly to adjust marketing strategies to maximise the positive effects of the multimillion-dollar VW campaign in order to bring more tourists to Jamaica.

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