The advertisement was roundly criticised online, with some people describing it as “disgusting” and “sexist trash”, while others said they would no longer buy Audi cars and pushed for the company to apologise.
The advertisement opens in a pastoral setting, with a bride and a groom about to take their vows. But the mother of the groom frantically interrupts, rushing up the aisle to “inspect” her would-be daughter-in-law.
With a stare, the woman proceeds to pinch the bride’s nose, pull back the bride’s ear and then examine the inside of the bride’s mouth.
“What are you doing?!” the horrified groom asks in Mandarin, as he pulls his mother away.
The older woman begins walking back to her seat, then turns around to flash an “A-Okay” hand sign.
The bride and the groom sigh in relief. But the relief is short-lived because the groom’s mother again focuses her attention on the bride, this time casting a glance at her breasts. The anxious bride quickly covers her chest area with her hands.
The commercial then cuts away to footage of a red Audi sedan zipping along an empty highway, as a man’s voice declares: “An important decision must be made carefully.”
An animation encourages viewers to visit a website selling “Audi-approved” secondhand cars.
Thousands of Chinese consumers mocked the online ad and said it was sexist and offensive to women. In Tensant’s popular Wi-Chat application recorded almost half a million mentions of Audi’s second-hand car were recorded on Tuesday.
The negative reaction on social networks in China can seriously hurt Audi, which is owned by Volkswagen, and suffering from a standstill in sales in China this year, although in June sales rose slightly.
The company told USA TODAY in a statement that it “deeply regrets” the ad, which it said was created by the used car division of its joint venture in China.