Brand Blunder #77: Audi ad in Chinese cultural collision

Luxury car brand Audi has revved up its Chinese customers with an advertisement variously described as ‘sexist’ and ‘demeaning to women’.

The ad shows a fussy mother-in-law examining her son’s bride-to-be, as the young couple wait at the altar to be married.  The groom’s mother not only interrupts the ceremony, she checks the bride’s eyes, nose and ears, and even pulls open her mouth to check the condition of her teeth.

A voice over intones: “Important decisions must be made carefully…Only with an official certification can you relax.”

Hilarious…?  Most Chinese consumers didn’t think so.  The attempt to humorously play off the sensitive cultural issue of demanding Chinese parents fell very flat.  Thousands went online to mock Audi, leading the company to withdraw the ad.

Audi said in a statement that the perception created by the advert “does not correspond to the values of our company in any way” and that it was “launching an investigation” into the error.


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