The New Audi Ad and Other Ads that Courted Controversy

Ads are supposed to tell us why to buy a product by advertising its (supposedly superior) features, attractive price point and perhaps the fact that a celebrity is endorsing it. Sometimes ads merely create controversy. We have seen plenty of sexist and regressive ads over the years. Should that matter? After all any publicity is good publicity isn't it? Well, watch some of these ads, including this most controversial Audi ad, which has since been pulled; and make up your own mind:

Chinese Audi ad compares women to used cars

It is pretty obvious why this one drew the ire of viewers. A woman at the marriage altar is subjected to a number of highly insulting physical ‘checks’ by her would be mother in law, pronounced OK and then not… rather like one would check and choose a used car, implies the ad. Social media erupted; calling the ad sexist, outrageous and extremely demeaning to women. The ad has since been pulled by Audi.   

Racist detergent ad from China

The man goes in black and emerges ‘washed’ fair-skinned by the detergent. The audience is supposed to conclude from this how very effective the detergent is. How can one even begin to comment on something so frankly racist, offensive and awful!

 ‘Inspiration’ for racism?

Allegedly, the Chinese ad was ‘inspired’ by this Italian ad. This one is equally racist; telling us colored is better… so long as he is handsome, hunky and ripped!

No dearth of racist ads in India

“Sabkuchh roshan karde” says this Bajan CFL ad. They may be taking a swipe at usual fairness cream ads that are undeniably racist, but by equating fair skin with ‘roshni’ the ad very much underscores the deep seated racism of fair-skin-obsessed Indians.

Our sexist ads

Watch and weep! Where do I start! Of course it is taken for granted that the job of washing clothes is that of the woman and that the man is ‘magnanimous’ if he gets her a new, improved washing powder; while implying that it is desirable that he be promoted to ‘parmeshwar’ from ‘pati’. Then, the good woman, doing her ‘job’ keeping clothes white earns the approval of the man. He also approves that her hands are nice and soft… because it is the ‘duty’ of the woman to not only do the work but also to hide the evidence of her labor?

Amazon had a better idea (slightly)

This one starts out being fairly infuriating: men talking generalities and stereotypes about the quintessential acquisitive woman; the inveterate shopper. It ends OK, but still rankles: a woman is good when she is doing stuff for others, but to be frowned on when she chooses to please herself. The men being patronizing and indulgent in the end really doesn’t make things better for me. Work for you? It is better than outright chauvinism; but I would say try harder Amazon.

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