This Tone-Deaf Audi Ad Pretends It’s Fine To Compare Women To Used Cars

Who thought this would be OK?

It’s no doubt difficult for a brand to monitor and control the message it sends out internationally to distinct cultures and nations. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Audi is learning that lesson after releasing an ad in the Chinese market that attempts to find humor in a groom’s family inspecting his bride as though she’s a used car.

If that concept doesn’t tickle your funny bone, there’s a good chance the final product won’t either.

The theme is unpalatable, for sure, but the characters in the ad, aside from the uber-critical mother-in-law (a reliable stock character in Chinese cutlure as well, it would seem), at least recoil at the prospect. That aspect served as little consolation for angry viewers, many of whom sounded off on the social network Weibo, where the video ran.

To Audi’s certain dismay, international boundaries do little to ebb the dissemination across the world these days, making a misstep in the Chinese market tantamount to a global gaffe.

The post below claims the ad “backfired,” which begs the question: “What exactly was the intent of this ad?” It’s clear from the torrent of responses both in China and elsewhere that this isn’t an instance of cultural relativism.

If you’re looking for a silver lining here, I suppose it can be found in the fact that the response to this ad is almost uniformly critical. If only Audi had applied the same standards that the public did, perhaps this ad wouldn’t have ever been made.


Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

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