Audi's China JV in trouble as advertisement sparks copyright controversy
Audi's joint venture company in China has been forced to apologize for allegedly using a poem in an advertisement without seeking the original author’s permission. The joint venture company, FAW-Volkswagen, said that the commercial that landed it into trouble was produced by M&C Saatchi, a UK-based advertising agency. In response to the controversy, Audi has ordered the video to be taken down.
The carmaker has asked the advertisement agency to deal with the infringement as soon as possible, China's Global Times reported. The commercial that was directed by Peng Yangjun features a famous actor from Hong Kong, Andy Lau, who can be seen introducing the traditional Chinese solar term Xiaoman (grain buds), which fall at this time of year. Though the advertisement was well-received initially, it has now sparked a controversy.
The issue came to light when an influencer named ‘Beida Mange’, who is said to have more than four million followers on Douyin, which is China’s version of TikTok, criticized the brand for copying his work.
Following this, the People’s Daily - the Communist Party’s publication, shared a video comparing FAW-Volkswagen's ad to Beida Mange’s work, with both clips appearing to have the same text. The original ad has since been taken down but it sparked a discourse on Weibo, another Chinese social media site, about copyright. In fact, many alleged that Mange wasn't the first to come up with the idea and that he copied it from other users.
However, M&C Saatchi has apologized to the original author saying, "We sincerely apologize to the original author, and promise to do our best to make up for the loss of the original author. We solemnly promise that we will respect and protect the rights and interests of original authors in advertising creation, and strictly prevent this situation from happening."