Audi has managed to anger at least half of China with a controversial new commercial showing a woman being treated like livestock before being likened to a used car.
In the 34-second ad for Audi’s secondhand cars in China, a groom and bride are in the middle of declaring their wedding vows when the groom’s mother suddenly marches down the aisle to interrupt the proceedings to give her future daughter-in-law one final inspection. The older woman roughly checks the blushing bride’s eyes, ears and mouth as if she was a cow.
Apparently satisfied with what she has seen, the mother-in-law begins to return to her seat, but then turns back and her gaze lowers to the younger woman’s breasts, causing the bride to quickly cover up her chest.
The ad then concludes with an Audi cruising along a road as a voiceover states that: “An important decision must be made carefully. Audi Approved: plus online 4S shop.”
The commercial has apparently been playing in Chinese movie theaters for the past few months, but only caught widespread attention yesterday as it went viral on Weibo, offending most everyone who watched it.
Chinese netizens have deemed the ad, “trashy,” “discriminatory” and “sexist” — not to mention just plain dumb. Some have wondered how an international company like Audi could have let such a video get past the planning stage, much less onto screens across China.
A few netizens have gone so far as to urge for a boycott against Audi, arguing that such an insulting commercial would not have been shown in any of the company’s Western markets. Meanwhile, others have argued that people just need to learn how to take a joke.
So far, Audi has yet to release an official statement regarding the ad, but a spokesman did tell the South China Morning Post that the matter was being investigated and that Audi’s marketing in China was actually the responsibility of its local joint venture partner.
Which would explain a lot. Chinese companies are, of course, no stranger to sexist or completely tone-deaf advertising. Earlier this year, the country’s leading coconut juice brand released an ad promising that its beverage would help to lighten a woman’s skin and grow her breasts. And who could forget last year’s advertisement for a Qiaobi laundry detergent in which a paint-splattered black man was shoved into a washing machine for a full cycle, only to reemerge as a pristine young Chinese man.
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