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2017 CAS LogoOur girls will turn five and eight this year. I still can’t believe how fast they’re growing up, and while much is changing, there are certain uncalled-for challenges that my wife and I have continually had to deal with over the years. As a parent – a father – my blood boils when my girls come home telling me that certain things are “girl” or “boy” things, or worse yet – when someone tells them that they cannot do something because “that’s for boys.” I’ve politely corrected other children for saying such things in front of me, knowing full well that what they’re saying isn’t coming from the mind of a child, but is information that has erroneously been fed to them by grownups in their lives. Just because some children are force-fed dated views, does not mean that I will allow it to cause confusion in our home. I’ve seen how playing the gender card can cause kids to question their self-worth, and I’ll be damned if my girls grow into adulthood thinking that they are somehow worth less, simply because of their gender. Take a look at the Super Bowl Game Day commercial from Audi of America, entitled “Daughter,” below…

Since its pre-game launch a few days ago, Audi’s “Daughter” spot has been unusually polarizing. A positive father-daughter moment in which a loving dad watches his child face-off against a field of boys in a soap-box derby, is narrated by his inner monologue – one that carries some legitimate questions. It reminded me of when I coached Pee-Wee Baseball a few years ago, with my daughter the only girl on a team of 13.

A message of #DriveProgress accompanies the spot, along with a statement that “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.” Now, “equal pay for equal work” can be a complex thing, with many factors being brought into consideration, many times boiling down to the definition of “equal work.” There are laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender, but like every other law in this country, they are bound to be broken. It was President John F. Kennedy that signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963, but here were are in 2017 and Audi cites a 2016 report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee that shows the “gender pay gap” still exists, and that women are paid 21% less on average than men. If you’d like to read the full report yourself, you can download a PDF right here, or read an overview of the report here.

This is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. Equal pay is a bipartisan issue that comes down to doing what is right. Equal experience and performance should mean equal pay regardless of gender.

And, as diversity becomes an issue, Audi Vice President of Marketing, Loren Angelo, even acknowledged to Automotive News that only two members of Audi’s 14-member Executive Team are female. 

In his statement, he noted:  “Today, women comprise roughly 12 percent of Audi (USA) 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.”

The Rock Father and Finley
Not an Audi, but my youngest and I were getting ready to drive fast last summer!

Beyond a commercial (directed by filmmaker Aoife McArdle) and the #DriveProgress hashtag campaign, Audi of America said in a press release that it “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.”

This pairs with its external initiatives “to develop opportunities for women at the educational, career and leadership levels in art and film, STEM, and business that will inspire and secure the next generation of female leaders. Already this year, the brand collaborated with longtime partner AFI FEST to create the Audi Fellowship scholarship program, which will grant one promising female director AFI Conservatory enrollment.” Audi has been the official automotive sponsor of AFI FEST for over 14 years.

As the faceless denizens of the internet get out their keyboard-based torches to skewer Audi for taking a stance on a political issue, it should be noted that a curious amount of comments on the “Daughter” YouTube video come from brand-new accounts that have zero history outside of that comment thread, and have profiles that bear the classic markings of internet trolls and sock puppets. Anything they say should be taken lightly, and treated with little value.

Audi made a statement that they should be proud of, and I, not only as a father, but as a man, can tell you that any viewer who would decry the spot as “anti-male” (which has been getting tossed around), should certainly take a look in the mirror, and grow some balls themselves. Men and women should have no reason to feel threatened by one another, though the insecurities of some tend to manifest themselves in strange ways.

addieraceAddie getting ready to race back in 2014

As I prepare to cover the 2017 Chicago Auto Show this coming week (I’ve been covering it for years), an interesting change is that for the first time ever, I will have a sidekick. The Rock Daughters are very well-versed when it comes to cars, and my oldest will be along for the ride. You can bet we’ll be spending some time at the Audi booth in the South Hall of McCormick Place.

Stay tuned…

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