The whole world knows about the ad for the new Audi RS 4. However, this is not due to the qualities of the car. The Audi brand has escaped relatively unscathed. However in the hands of dealerships, such advertising could have catastrophic consequences. How do you actually make a good advertisement, and what should you watch out for?
Just a bit of a pedo-feeling
“We sincerely apologize for this insensitive image and ensure that it will not be used in future. We will also immediately examine internally, how this campaign has been created and if control mechanisms failed in this case.”
Audi is eating a humble pie for their advertising campaign with a four-year-old defiant girl in a mini dress, dark glasses, and a large banana in her hand, leaning on the front of an Audi RS 4. All that with the title “Let your heart beat faster – in every aspect.” Audi was apparently referring to the fact that: “The Audi RS 4 is a family car with more than thirty driver assistance systems including an emergency brake system,” which incidntally will be required on all new vehicles in the EU from May 2022. However, it seems that the public, at least the one on Twitter, saw this advertisement as more of an attempt to transform a tiny girl into a kind of sexual symbol. This sparked an unprecedented wave of resentment. At first, Audi tried to “put out” the situation, by releasing an apology only 26 hours after publishing the advertisement.
We hoped we could convey these messages, showing that even for the weakest traffic participants it is possible to relaxingly lean on the RS technology. That was a mistake! Audi never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. (2/3)
— Audi (@AudiOfficial) August 3, 2020
However, part of the public does not understand what is actually happening at all, because they do not see any phallic symbol in the banana and do not perceive a girl wearing certain clothes and posing as an adult as sexual. This is probably also the reason why this ad passed through Audi. No one realized another possible interpretation of what someone internally presented as the communication concept of the Audi RS 4 as a family car.
Advertising that can destroy you
In the days of coronavirus and the coming crisis, this exorbitance will be forgotten as quickly as it arose. For Audi, which produces almost 1.9 million cars a year, this is unlikely to have any economic consequences. But if it were to happen to a dealer, the consequences in the local market could be fatal. The dealership will get negative publicity for its target group, and the importer will be doubly unenthusiastic about the move. Regardless of whether he had previously approved the ad or not. So the first piece of advice is – show your ad to someone “on the street”. Someone who is unfamiliar with the creative process and who is ideally outside your target group. To be fair, most Twitter commentators in this case were also not high-performance Audi owners.
Three things to watch out for when advertising
This is certainly a question that many advertising agencies ask themselves. In reality, however, the preparation of an advertising campaign may not be as risky as it may seem in the light of Audi’s slander. Just follow three simple rules:
- Do not sexualize children, not even teenagers. People who have children of the same age will always be very sensitive to this.
- Don’t sexualize women. Yes, it is still true that sex attracts attention. But it no longer has to be true that it sells as well. Moreover, that interest has long been no longer positive. Sexism is not in. Photoshopping women in advertisements is no longer in. The former is awarded national and international sexist anti-prizes, and the latter is the subject of a number of influencers around the world. After all, women also buy cars, and not just family ones. So you do want to attract women with advertising, just not offend them.
- Forget about “funny” double meanings. As much as someone may like it, part of the audience will always be offended. Maybe also because they do not understand the joke straightaway.
Take advantage of the mistakes of automakers
And is there any guide on how to guarantee a “good” advertisement? Yes, just learn from the mistakes of automakers. There are highly rated ads, such as the one from Porsche. And sometimes you can use that disgrace to your advantage. More than one Audi dealer started offering free bananas with a purchase. Those who hate the advertising with a girl see this as a mockery of Audi. Those who do not see anything wrong then can make fun of those who find it offensive. And the dealers? They just make money on it…