German carmaker Audi has come under fire from consumers in China for an advert in which a bride is inspected as if she were a used car.
The commercial compares finding a car to finding the perfect wife. The 34-second ad, which promotes secondhand cars in China, depictes a groom’s mother inspecting the bride’s physical appearance during a wedding ceremony. The woman aggressively pinches the bride’s nose, ears and lips before her son pulls her off the bride. She then takes a last look at the bride’s chest before a caption declares: “an important decision must be made carefully”.
The ad sparked a sweeping backlash from the Chinese public and domestic and international media, and the state newspaper People’s Daily slammed it as “disturbing and disrespectful”.
On Chinese social media, many netizens have deemed the ad, “trashy,” “discriminatory” and “sexist”, with many wondering how an international company like Audi could have let such a video get past the planning stage, much less onto screens across China.
Ogilvy & Mather Beijing was the creative agency behind the spot, it said the advertising for Audi used cars actually included both a female and male version.
The creative agency apologised to “every woman who was offended”, adding that “it by no means was intended to degrade women.”
“Our intent was to use humorous and exaggerated storytelling to encourage viewers to reflect on the decisions in their lives.”
According to Audi’s official statement sent to Marketing, the company said the spot was produced exclusively for the Chinese market and has already been completely withdrawn.
Audi also said that it “deeply regrets” the ad, which it said the joint venture department responsible for the video “has arranged a thorough investigation” in order to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The carmaker also said, “the ad’s perception that has been created for many people does not correspond to the values of our company in any way.”