Daughter Favorite 



Feb 5 2017



Audi of America is committed to supporting pay equality, inclusivity, and the growth and development of all employees. The company has publically pledged to support ongoing commitment to women’s pay equality in the workplace and to foster a work environment that drives equality for all employees. Audi also instituted a graduate internship program where 50 percent of enrollment must be female establishing greater equality for our future workforce.

By positioning itself as a champion of gender (pay) equality, Audi of America invited scrutiny of its hiring practices. News outlets quickly reported that only 2 of the 14-member Audi USA executive team are female.

Audi responded: “Today, women comprise roughly 12% of Audi senior management workforce, including our senior VP, chief communications officer and senior director of human resources. In 2017 and beyond, we continue to support pay equality and pledge to put aggressive hiring and development strategies in place to increase the number of women in our workforce, at all levels.”

As the determined little girl steered her homemade go-kart and zipped past the all-male competition, her father worried darkly over the challenges she’d face when she entered the workforce. “Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?” The 60-second Audi ad, which aired during last night’s Super Bowl, meant to demonstrate to viewers that the German automaker is committed to gender equality in the workplace.

Instead, the ad’s downbeat message turned off more people than it inspired. It also drew attention to Audi’s own record on gender equality, which is mixed at best. And it highlighted the perils that come with an attempt to hitch a corporate identity to a controversial social issue. The YouTube video of the ad has logged more dislikes (59,000) than likes (47,000). “Some of that [negative reaction] comes from a perception of a manufacturer and seller of products trying to grab an issue and align with it for their own gain,” says Julie Hennessy, a marketing professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Audi’s U.S. marketing director Loren Angelo defends the ad’s approach. “Audi is a brand that has always used the creative storytelling platform that the Super Bowl provides to talk about the brand, talk about our position and provide a point of view,” he says. Past Audi Super Bowl ads have fared better. Last year’s spot, which featured a retired astronaut who feels rejuvenated by driving an Audi R8, received rave reviews from AdAge and Vogue.

This year’s ad invites a look at Audi’s track record on promoting women to leadership roles. Audi has no women on its six-person executive team. Its supervisory board (the German equivalent to a U.S. board of directors) is only 16% women. That’s below the already-low average of 20% for female representation on corporate boards of Fortune 500 firms, and significantly lower than BMW’s 30%.

In defense, Audi spokeswoman Miranda Harper says the company signed the White House Equal Pay Pledge last year, and its graduate analyst program has a minimum requirement of 50% women. Marketing director Angelo says Audi ran an internal salary analysis, and after accounting for factors like “individual performance, experience, and tenure in the job,” it determined that it now has “equal pay for equal work.” But Harper wouldn’t comment on whether Audi has made any gender-based salary adjustments over the past two years. By contrast, companies like Salesforce and Exelon have been vocal about taking such steps.

The ad wasn’t a complete flop. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, author of bestseller Lean In, posted the ad to Facebook with kudos to Audi. “Love this #SuperBowl ad from Audi USA, which drives home the need for equal pay for women. Now more than ever, we need ads like this which push back on gender stereotypes,” she wrote. But by inviting scrutiny of Audi’s lousy record of women in its own leadership ranks, the ad backfired. It also left viewers feeling sad about the obstacles waiting for the girl in the go-cart. “Emotionally, the power of the negatives is way more than the implicit statement they’re making,” says marketing professor Hennessy. “The net takeaway here is pretty painful.”

Posted by Noah_jaffe on

Staff rating: 



How does this project help?

Timeframe For change

The long term goal of this project was to promote equitable valuation of men in women in the workforce — As an extension of equal pay. Because this issue is so systemic, and ingrained throughout history, it is a difficult one to combat.


This project was not effective at all. I gave it a 1/10 because the practitioner did something. A huge area that Audi fails in is the idea of “practicing what they preach”. One of the articles that I attached asserts that on Audi’s executive board, 0/6 members are women. While the idea/ initiative of this advertisement is great, Audi could do a much better job of setting this initiative into motion by setting a better example.