Audi China apologizes for controversial ad that likens women to used cars
Audi China on Thursday apologized for a heavily-criticized commercial it released in theaters and on online platforms in China which compares women to used cars.
In a statement issued via its official account on WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging service, the German luxury carmaker said it sincerely accepts the criticism and suggestions of the public, and announced an immediate retraction of the advertisement.
Screenshot from the video ad [Photo: CGTN]
"It is the lacking of thorough consideration in creativity and details that led to the content (of the ad) making the public hold the opinion it is sexist and demeaning to females," explained Audi, which also vowed to serve customers with a more prudent attitude.
Audi's announcement on Chinese social media came after an open apology by the automaker in a statement issued to US Today, in which it said it "deeply regrets" the ad, which it noted was conceived by the used cars division of its joint venture in China and targeted only to the Chinese market.
The controversial commercial depicts a bridegroom's mother inspecting the bride-to-be's physical appearance during her wedding ceremony. She aggressively pinches the bride's nose, ears and lips, before making an "okay" gesture signaling her satisfaction with the examination.
But the checkup does not come to an end until the mother gazes at the bride's chest, to the latter's embarrassment.
"An important decision must be made carefully," a voice then announces as the scene changes to an Audi sedan driving on a highway.
The ad also triggered backlash in China as netizens saw it as a distortion of Chinese marriage and the relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law.
"Such a vulgar ad! Likening women to used cars? Discrimination against people who received plastic surgery? Is this what Audi is all about? So low!" commented @Eva-WHC on China's Twitter-like Weibo.
"How could a joint venture like Audi promote discrimination against women like this in China? Does Audi think all Chinese people are so ignorant that they would tolerate such vulgar and discriminating marketing strategy? All Chinese men and women should stand up against such degraded corporate culture," wrote @zhangyanyanyanyan.
Netizens were also not convinced with Audi's apology.
"This is not an apology, but a surrender to money," noted @Weipangpang.
"How could it happen that no one from such a big company can explain the problem of this commercial? I don't buy it!" another user @liqingshaonian commented.