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German automaker Audi has taken the rare step of publicly apologizing for an ad and pledging to investigate how the image was approved for sharing on the brand’s official Twitter feed.However, some fans in social media said critics were reading too much into the ad, which was accused of bringing to mind accidents involving children and, by a smaller number of commenters, of sexualizing the child in the ad.In its three-part apology on Twitter, Audi said it had intended for the child in the ad to symbolize the Audi RS 4 Avant’s safety features while, presumably, showing it to be fun to drive.“We sincerely apologize for this insensitive image and ensure that it will not be used in future,” the brand wrote, “We will also immediately examine internally, how this campaign has been created and if control mechanisms failed in this case.” We hear you and let’s get this straight: We care for children. The Audi RS 4 is a family car with more than thirty driver assistance systems including an emergency break system. That’s why we showcased it with various family members for the campaign. (1/3)— AudiOfficial (@AudiOfficial) August 3, 2020 We hoped we could convey these messages, showing that even for the weakest traffic participants it is possible to relaxingly lean on the RS technology. That was a mistake! Audi never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. (2/3)— AudiOfficial (@AudiOfficial) August 3, 2020 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 As of Tuesday afternoon, the original tweet posted on Sunday had not been deleted.The ad’s critics generally cited one of two complaints: That it insensitively conveyed an image that might be associated with children being hit by cars, or that it sexualized a child. This is a frightening image giving testimony to the fact that such enormous speed machines are a danger to our children and societies and do not belong on city streets with kids around. Makes my stomach turn just looking at it.— Kadri Soova (@KadriSoova) August 3, 2020 One of many tweets posted in German described the ad as: “Huge car in concrete desert threatens a small child. Does that matter to Audi?”Another German tweet asked: “Are you crazy? Given the amount of traffic fatalities, are you putting a small child in front of a huge car that the driver can’t see because of the car? Is this advertising to kill children?”Several critics noted how easy it is for children to wander into harm’s way around cars. My most terrifying moment, when I used to drive (I’m no longer so foolish as to spend €10k a year on running a car) 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— Petrichor (@Sinabhfuil) August 3, 2020 Yes it makes my heart race – but not for the reason you intended. It’s ludicrous to position a small child immediately in front of the car bumper. Don’t you realise that some unfortunate grieving parents may be devasted at visualising this graphic image. Remove it immediately ????— David (@DavidCharnock5) August 4, 2020 @AudiOfficial This is so upsetting for moms to look at. We can’t let our kids wander off at all bc car companies glorify speed (“0 to 60 in 3 seconds!!”) Maybe rethink how Audi can make our streets and our kids safer FROM your product?— LindsayS (@LindsayJS) August 3, 2020 But the ad’s commentators were definitely split on allegations on Twitter that it sexualized the child in the image, a claim that seemed to be tied to the tweet’s copy: “Lets your heart beat faster—in every aspect.” Let’s add it up: Red=eroticism, sports car=substitute for potency, animal print mini-skirt=sex appeal, banana=phallic symbol. But sure this is all just accidental..https://t.co/fwPAn3mE43— Bobby Gill ☆ 【ツ】 (@bobbygill) August 4, 2020 So sad and very disturbing how many see this as sexual. Its not at all sexual. It is just a little girl holding a banana. Its just a banana. Maybe those seeing it as sexual should look hard at themselves.— Spirit of the Great Arkle Seizure (@DWynneJones) August 4, 2020 I don’t understand the critiscism. It’s not sexually suggestive – those who think so should be questioning their own thoughts. And in regards to the child being potentially run over, this is absolutely absurd. To those who complained, please do something better with your lives.— Jonathan Marriott (@jjmarriott) August 4, 2020 The ad appears to have been created from a photo shoot commissioned by German agency Philipp & Keuntje.

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