CHICAGO – While it was called out by one media-watcher as “racist,” Volkswagen's “Get Happy” Super Bowl commercial was an “incredibly favorable” experience, says the brand’s chief U.S. marketer.

Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer for Volkswagen U.S., says he received letters of support for the spot, which features a Caucasian male speaking with a Jamaican accent, and adds spoofs have popped up online, including one of a Jamaican speaking German – the surest proof to him of a successful campaign.

“One person said it was controversial, and then because one person said (it everyone said it),” Mahoney notes in an interview with media during the auto show here. “(But) before you knew, it the outpouring of support for it was really tremendous.

“I probably have honorary citizenships now to every Caribbean nation. The country of Jamaica issued a press release on our behalf.”

Mahoney says the commercial has legs, as YouTube views have increased this week following the Jan. 27 National Football League championship game.

“We're approaching 12 million (views), and some of the (other ads) that maybe claimed to be the stars of the Super Bowl have already peaked and fallen off, so I think the messaging was right.”

VW’s goal with the ad, officially titled “Get Happy” and promoting the new-generation Beetle, was to bring “smiles to people’s faces” and represent the brand’s spirit. Mahoney says some companies veered from keeping focus on their brand by making “Super Bowl ads.”

VW does not divulge what it paid for the ad, but most of this year’s Super Bowl commercials reportedly were running between $3 million and $4 million just to air, not including production costs.

Mahoney says while the ad’s post-Super Bowl traction is a good thing, he doesn't see a future series of “Get Happy” ads, so as not to pigeonhole the brand.

“So two years ago, we had a blockbuster with ‛The Force,’ which was tied in to the equity of ‛Star Wars,’” Mahoney says. “I think what we'll do is we'll sample (for a possible continuation of the campaign) out of popular culture, because this is such the people's brand.

“But I wouldn't ever want VW to be the ‘Star Wars’ company or the ‛overweight-dog’ company (a reference to the auto maker’s 2012 Super Bowl ad) or the ‘Jamaican get-happy’ company.”

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com