Ad shows small child leaning against the front of an RS 4
Twitter users said it was insensitive to children’s safety
Audi started its social media week with a post about the 444 hp RS 4, but that’s quickly flipped to an apology as a social media storm quickly erupted about the ad, which showed a young girl leaning on the front bumper of the car.
The post says “lets your heart beat faster – in every aspect,” and while some replies to the tweet try to point out that Audi’s ad people are referring to the fact that a child’s heartbeat is more rapid than an adult’s (so the RS4 makes you feel like a kid again), that’s not the way many took it.
The primary message people seemed to take away from the ad was that this was a sportscar with a top speed of more than 270 km/h with a child who would be nearly invisible from the driver’s seat leaning against the car’s blunt nose. Replies to the post called out Audi for the imagery during a time when increasing CO2 emissions and pedestrian deaths are becoming a more important issue to many, including car buyers.
With a top speed of 174mph this car should be illegal based on how many kids it will likely kill through both speed and contributory pollution. Instead you want to sell this car USING A CHILD? Probably Audi's lowest moment
— HRM Safe Cities for Everyone (@safe_hrm) August 2, 2020
This is appalling, it's wrong on so many levels, and should be taken down immediately. 1. #RoadSafety. 2. #AirPollution. 3. The #ClimateEmergency. Please rethink your ad strategy – preferably just stop advertising please.
— Mums For Lungs (@MumsForLungs) August 3, 2020
Other posters in both English and German implied that the young girl leaning aginst the car while eating a banana could be seen as sexualising the child as a way to promote the company’s wares.
So, let your heart beat faster in every aspect? Picture of – child with banana in mouth and flash car- so wrong in EVERY aspect
— Jane Bradford (@janebradford64) August 3, 2020
Just over 24 hours later, Audi responded to the concerns in another post. Audi’s official twitter account pointed out that the RS 4 “is a family car with more than thirty driver assistance systems including an emergency break (sic) system,” and that they had run a series of ads in the campaign featuring various family members.
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. (3/3)
— AudiOfficial (@AudiOfficial) August 3, 2020
Audi said that they were hoping to showcase that the RS’s technology could make things safer “even for the weakest traffic participants.”
They concluded with an apology for the image, calling it insensitive, and saying that it would not be used going forward. Audi also tweeted that it would “immediately examine internally, how this campaign has been created and if control mechanisms failed in this case.”