Audi, Your 'Empowering' Super Bowl Ad Is Terrible for Girls: Here's Why


AudiUSA/YouTube

When it comes to the Super Bowl, if you're not in it for the game, at least you have the endless supply of chips and dips, the half-time show, and commercials to enjoy. But as we've seen over the past few years, ads are moving away from comedy and cute dogs and toward more serious topics. This year's Audi #DriveProgress commercial is supposed to get us fired up about gender equality, but it's striking a chord with me for all the wrong reasons. 

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In the ad titled "Daughter," we see a young girl compete in a downhill go-kart race against the boys as her "dad" posits all the things he could tell her. I know it's meant to tug at our heartstrings, and I'm all for equal pay -- obviously -- but the way this message was delivered really crashed and burned for me. Take a look.  

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He asks:

Do I tell her that her grandpa is worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom? 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?

(Um, no. No, you don't. Ever.)

The ad concludes with the tagline: "Progress is for everyone." Really? Then why are we going backward in an attempt to move forward? What I'm asking is: Do we need to beat the audience over the head with the same tired rhetoric that we're trying so fiercely to move away from?

You know there will be some boy watching who looks at his sister, elbows her in the ribs, and says, "Yeah, you're not worth as much as I am!" (Thanks, Audi!) Or, there'll be a young girl watching, and maybe it never even crossed her radar that there are still ignorant people out there in the world who view her as less. Well, now she's going to go to sleep pondering those statements. 

It reminds me of when our middle school sends out mental health surveys to the kids and asks: "Have you ever thought about cutting yourself?" -- and I can't help but imagine there are children who think, "Well, no, I hadn't, but now I will!"

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Yes, it's a harsh reality that as of 2015, women working full-time in the United States were typically paid just 80 percent of what men received, leaving us with a 20 percent gap. That gap expands if we are considering African American women and Latinas, who are paid 64 and 56 percent, respectively of what white, non-Hispanic men are making.

Yes, we get it: "Dads, how can you tell your daughter she's equal and then not pay her the same?" But I wish this concept had been presented in a different way.

I'm no Don Draper, Mad Men's scotch-swilling ad mastermind, but I'd have loved to have just seen a race minus the heavy-handed voice-over. I wish I hadn't known the gender of the drivers at the outset. I'd have loved to have seen that competition conclude with this girl winning and a simple, understated but empowering message summing it all up: "What should I tell my daughter? That she's every bit as valuable as her male counterparts. Don't ever doubt it."

Instead we hear: "Or maybe, I'll be able to tell her something different." I'm sorry, that's just not moving me. 

Better yet, Audi, let's scrap the whole "little girl trying to cut it in a boy's game" concept and show us your female engineers and executives working in your facilities and corner offices. Show us real progress. Oh, wait, based on your executive team page, you've got 12 male executives and just two females. It would be interesting to know what each member of that team earns, wouldn't it? And how many women are on your board? Zero. Talk is cheap, Audi. 

I'm not the only one who doesn't like this ad. As of this posting, the commercial has racked up 1,410 likes versus 20,628 dislikes on Audi USA's YouTube channel.

Rather than reinforcing old, negative notions, Audi should have put something positive out there that our young girls and women can latch onto other than victimhood. If I had a daughter, I'd want to give her something to aspire to, not fight against.

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This commenter shares my sentiments: 

"ummm...that she needs to work hard and everything is fine...as a woman I want to say...I am not a victim, don't let your daughter feel like she is one either. And IF AUDI thinks that my father is worth more than MY Mother, maybe they should ask my father about that. NOT THE WAY I WAS RAISED IN AMERICA."

If we want to really "drive progress," let's stop trotting out the same old ideas. Let's create new mantras that blaze a new path for women, ones that don't pin them down and force them to rail against clichés from generations ago. We -- and our daughters -- deserve better than this. 

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