The Audi RS 4 Avant is being marketed in Europe as a sporty family sedan with muscle, appealing to the consumer who both likes their vehicle to have a little punch, yet wants the features a buyer with small kids might want, per Audi’s website.
As such, the company’s campaign for the product targeted parents by including a small child in one advertisement.
— AudiOfficial (@AudiOfficial) August 2, 2020
Unfortunately, the ad struck the wrong notes with several viewers.
Many Twitter users noted the child’s pose — resting against the car’s grille — puts her in a position where a driver couldn’t see her. For some, that brought back uncomfortable memories of near misses with children.
“My most terrifying moment… was when, backing out of my drive, I saw a woman racing frantically… I stood on the brake as she scooped up the toddler I couldn’t see,” user @Sinabhfuil wrote.
Similarly, user @KadriSoova called the car an “enormous speed machine” and said they’re a danger to children everywhere.
“Makes my stomach turn just looking at it,” she tweeted.
Other users noted the juxtaposition of using a little girl eating a banana to sell a high-powered vehicle seemingly marketed to men, pointing out that bananas have been used as phallic symbols in advertising and that high-powered sports cars are often marketed as sex symbols.
User @KIMoulder tweeted that the advertisement seemed to have been created by an all-male marketing team, as she postulated that no woman would have green-lit the concept.
“You need some more ‘woke’ men on that team,” she wrote.
In response to the complaints, Audi posted a series of tweets that acknowledged the complaints. They noted that it was never the company’s intention to use sex or danger to children to market the product.
“Let’s get this straight: We care for children,” they wrote. They also pointed out that the vehicle is equipped with a host of safety features that parents would want.
As for the little girl leaning up against the machine, Audi said it was intended as a visual metaphor for kids “leaning” on the safety features of the product.
Stating that it was never their intention to hurt anyone’s feelings, the manufacturer promised an internal review to make sure something like this won’t be repeated in the future.