A casting call notice for this year's Acura Super Bowl Ad featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno obtained by TMZ indicates Acura's agency wanted an African-American actor for the role of the dealer, so long as he was "Not too dark" and "Nice looking, friendly." UPDATE!
Acura's big spot featured one rich white guy (Jay Leno) fighting with another rich white guy (Jerry Seinfeld) over an Acura NSX being purchased by a third rich white guy (some random). The ad was viewed by more than 18 million people and played prominently during the Super Bowl.
The casting call describes the character as "African American Car Dealer" whose role details indicate he will be "Nice looking, friendly. Not too dark. Will work with a MAJOR COMEDIAN."
The document was linked by an actor who "didn't fit the profile, and who's pissed." Someone associated with the casting agency said the restriction was "because lighting and special effects would get tricky."
Which would make sense if it actually made any sense at all. Because the scene featuring the "African American Car Dealer" featured no special effects whatsoever. (UPDATE: Someone makes the point that the car is likely digitally enhanced which, if true, is a form of special effects. However, still odd that they can make a car appear out of nowhere but can't light a black guy with dark skin.)
If you're wondering why this might be outrageous to some, step back for a moment and look at the inverse of a casting request looking for "Nice looking, friendly. Not too dark." You'd get "Ugly looking, mean. Dark."
Given researchers have often found a correlation in people's minds between skin darkness and worth/attitude, you'd expect Acura or the ad agency to be cognizant of it. Especially given it's such an over-used ploy in television there's an entire TV Trope page associated with the problem.
We've reached out to Acura for a comment.
UPDATE! Acura apologizes for the language they used, but not the general sentiment.