In an increasingly digital age, mastering and executing effective marketing campaigns has never been a more diverse practice. No longer are would be advertisers confined to the medium of television marketing; realising commercials that demand a large amount of information to be shared in a simple manner in a relatively short time frame. Indeed, with the seemingly exponential rise of social media, companies and marketing agencies have a creative license outside of such generic conventions, with which to sell their products or services.
This means that ambitious advertising campaigns a further aim; as well as being informative, memorable and compelling, commercials and ad campaigns must now also strive to be shareable in the hope of becoming an internet sensation. While challenges inevitably breed creativity, and we have seen some truly brilliant marketing campaigns spread on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, there have also been some notable failures in recent years. Indeed it was only earlier in 2017 that Pepsi came under fire for a regrettable commercial starring Kendall Jenner that appeared to draw insensitive parallels to the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, car manufacturing giant Audi has felt the internet’s keen sting after being accused of rolling out a sexist commercial in China. The astonishing advert compares the process of buying a car to that of finding a wife, and depicts a would-be bride being inspected by her prospective mother-in-law. The woman’s teeth, ears and nose are checked in a bizarre sequence, which Audi has said it “deeply regrets”. The advert has now been withdrawn, and a spokesman for the company has commented on the regrettable conceit;“The ad’s perception that has been created for many people does not correspond to the values of our company in any way”. Several internet users have been musing on the process behind the commercial’s conception, with one noting asking, “From the inception of this idea to its broadcasting, was there a single woman who worked on this commercial?”. Another user claimed that they would “not buy an Audi in this lifetime” due to the commercial’s remarkable insensitivity. The theme of the advert, that “an important decision must be made carefully” will be considered outmoded by some, and sexist by others, and it seems unbelievable that such an advert was deemed worthy for public consumption in the 21st century.The commercial, which was made exclusively for the Chinese market, has now been pulled, the company confirmed, though some are still calling for a boycott from the car manufacturer, considered one of the largest in China. It isn’t the first advert to air in China in recent times that has faced an online backlash; last year, a Chinese detergent company apologised for a “racist” advert in which a black man was depicted being “washed” before emerging as an Asian man. “We express regret that the ad should have caused a controversy, but we will not shun responsibility for controversial content,” the company said in a statement at the time. It would appear that, even in our brave new world of closer scrutiny and sensitivity than ever before, there is still considerable scope for things to go badly wrong in the world of advertising.
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