In a broadcast that has historically included more than a fair share of commercials you'd call sexist, and following a presidential campaign with a surplus of gender controversy, Audi puts down a stake for a position that ought not need be staked: equal pay for women and men.
The minute-long ad, created by lead Audi shop Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, was the brand's second consecutive big-game spot (see "The Commander" from Super Bowl 50) after snapping a seven-game streak in 2015.
It was directed by Aoife McArdle, a top director repped out of Somesuch and Anonymous Content who has directed big-brand work for the likes of P&G's Secret, Under Armour, Honda and Samsung. She previously helmed a commercial for Secret that also carried an equal pay message.
"Pay equality is a big message for a big stage," Loren Angelo, VP of marketing at Audi of America, said in a press release promoting the ad before Super Bowl LI. "As a business built on bold innovation -- from LED lighting to Audi quattro -- progress is at the heart of what we do. We're a brand that's ahead of the curve and looking toward the future, just like our next generation of buyers."
Only two of the 14-member Audi USA executive team leading up to the Super Bowl were women -- Jeri Ward, senior VP and chief communications officer, and Christine Gaspar, senior director of human resources. Asked about that point, Audi told Ad Age that it pledged "to put aggressive hiring and development strategies in place to increase the number of women in our workforce, at all levels."
Gender inequity is also a huge issue in the ad business itself. Women comprised only 9.7% of the rostered directors of the production companies that made Ad Age and Creativity's Production Company A-List in 2015, according to an analysis by Mashable in 2016. Gender inequality in the industry in 2016 sparked the "Free the Bid" effort, which calls on agencies and brands to include a female director on any triple-bid production projects.
Audi released "Daughter" the Wednesday before the game.
Line Producer: Grace Brodie. Director of photography: Pat Scola.
Executive producers: Nicky Barnes, Sally Campbell.
AGENCY: Venables Bell & Partners
QUARTER AIRED: Q3