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Audi likens women to used cars in Chinese ad

Commentary: Audi in China faces backlash over an ad that makes an unfortunate comparison.

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Yes, really.

Audi China/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Whenever an ad seems stunningly inappropriate or gauche, it's always worth remembering that someone thought it was a good idea.

Indeed, there must have been a whole conference table of people when the idea of comparing a bride to a used car was mooted. So much so that the idea became flesh, to the appalled gaze of many.

The finished product -- for Audi in China -- shows a happy couple's marriage vows being interrupted by the groom's mother.

She has chosen this moment to inspect her future daughter-in-law's eyes, nose, ears and, oh, gums. Yes, there's a cleavage inspection too.

If this was so important, couldn't she have done this before the wedding?

The point of this spectacle is to suggest that this sort of rigorous inspection is similar to the one enjoyed by Audi's used cars.

As CNN reports, the ad was met with some disdain on social media. Words like "unacceptable" and "disgusting" were used. 

The Washington Post reports that a Weibo page discussing the ad has already gained 200,000 views, with some railing against the stereotypes that it peddles.

Audi has been struggling in China of late, with BMW and Mercedes beginning to overpower it. This ad surely can't have helped.

Indeed, an spokesman at Audi headquarters told me: "AUDI AG deeply regrets the aforementioned TV spot of the used car division of our joint venture 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."

He told me the ad has been withdrawn and that an investigation into how it was ever approved and produced is under way. 

I suspect that one or two people at Audi China and its ad agency will soon be undergoing a rigorous inspection themselves.

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