Mary Rock and Davis Kamoff were cast for the commercial, according to Deb Schildt with Piksik, a production services company based in Anchorage.
The ad, called “Sled,” showcases the auto-maker’s sport sedan dubbed “Kizashi.”
Suzuki said the ad was shot in Canada about an hour outside of Calgary on a frozen lake and was made by the ad agency Siltanen & Partners Advertising.
Comment: This ad isn't terrible. It gets bonus points for using Alaska Native actors who (apparently) speak their own language. But it has a few problems.
The ad begins with a clichéd hawk screech. Hawks in the Arctic? I don't think so. Stereotype alert!
But it's not clear the ad takes place in the Arctic. The setting appears to be a frozen lake nestled among tree-covered mountains. In the far north, where the Inuit traditionally live, there are few if any mountains, trees, or lakes.
An Inuit man in a parka prepares his dog sled outside his igloo. He hugs an Inuit woman, also in a parka, and leaves on his sled. Apparently he trades his sled for a car, because he and the dogs drive back to the igloo. His woman asks where the sled is and he says he upgraded it.
First, the commercial gives us three basic "Eskimo" stereotypes: igloo, parkas, and dog sled. These suggest the Inuit are primitive people with no access to modern technology. In reality, most Inuit live in mass-manufactured houses and wear mass-manufactured coats these days.
Besides, the igloo makes no sense. The Inuit build igloos as temporary shelters on the ice when they're far from home. They build them of ice blocks because they have no other materials handy.
But this couple has stone and wood nearby. If they couldn't buy a prefabricated house, why wouldn't they build a proper one? Oh, yeah...because all Inuit live in igloos no matter what their circumstances are, right? That's what a million "Eskimo" stereotypes have told us, anyway.
The man wears his parka inside the car. He must be sweltering, especially if he's using the car's heater. Part of the parka stereotype is that the Inuit never take them off and wear something else. It's as if furs are glued to their skin.
The man says he traded the sled for the car. He obviously means the wooden conveyance, since he still has his dogs. But I'm pretty sure the dogs are the most important and valuable part of the dog sled. In other words, the sled is worthless without the dogs. It's easily replaced while the dogs require years of painstaking training.
Overall, this ad gets maybe a "B" for effort. It gets points for featuring the Inuit in a high-profile Super Bowl ad. For showing they can drive something other than a sled or snowmobile--possibly a first on network TV. And for using genuine Alaska Natives and their language.
But it loses points for reinforcing old stereotypes. If we're to judge by commercials like this one, all American Indians live in teepees and all Alaska Natives live in igloos. In other words, Natives are stuck in the distant past...ho-hum.
I imagine the creators thought their ad was progressive. Not really. Natives abandon a 19th-century lifestyle for a 20th-century convenience isn't a cutting-edge message in the 21st century. Trading a sled for a car might've been a great idea in 1912, but not in 2012.
If you wanted to do this commercial right, you could start with a modern Inuit family in a modern home. The parents tell the children a story of the "olden days." Then cut to the actual commercial, with a traditional Inuit family upgrading their sled to a Kizashi. It's basically the same message, but it doesn't place the Inuit in a primitive and stereotypical setting. It doesn't tell us that igloos and parkas are their normal state.
For more on Eskimo stereotypes, see "Talking Eskimo" Wheat Board Video and Vilche the "Eskimo Warrior."