BEIJING: German luxury automotive brand Audi is driving controversy on social media in China over a new commercial that compares women to secondhand cars.
The ad, showing online and in Wanda Cinemas nationwide, depicts a wedding scene with a young bride and groom at the altar.
As they take their vows, the groom’s mother rushes up to interrupt and begins examining the bride as if she were a racehorse—forcing her mouth open to check her teeth and looking behind her ears—all to the bride’s discomfort.
The ceremony continues only after the mother approves, giving the camera an “ok” gesture.
However, the most cringe-worthy moment comes when the mother turns around and motions she forgot to check the bride’s chest.
Soon after we hear a voiceover with tagline, “An important decision must be made carefully,” followed by a graphic for Audi’s secondhand vehicle website.
Outcry followed on Chinese social media. Netizens have called the ad “utterly inappropriate” and “sexist,” calling for it to be taken offline.
“The commercial seems to simply pre-assume that only men are entitled to choose, to buy their cars and all, and women—like cars—can only wait to be chosen,” wrote Sina Weibo user “chimianshaonv”.
An Audi employee in China posted on Sina Weibo that the mother was “inspecting whether the bride had any plastic surgery done,” adding the commercial “was not objectifying women,” thepaper.cn reported.
USA Today reported on Wednesday that Audi, which is attempting to revive its sales in the world’s biggest car market, had apologized for airing the sexist commercial in China and that it had withdrawn the ad which it said was created by the used car division of its joint venture in China.
Car manufacturers are required to form partnerships with local manufactures to produce vehicles in China.
“The ad’s perception that has been created for many people does not correspond to the values of our company in any way,” said Audi, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, the world’s largest automaker.