Expect to see more controversial commercials in the future like the one from Audi in this year's Super Bowl.
The ad in question (see video below) involves the issue of the wage gap, meaning the pay for women in the workplace as compared with men. Since its debut, the Audi commercial has been the subject of many articles and blogs.
"Most advertisements these days aren't just selling a product, but they're selling a set of values or a specific virtue that they want customers to associate with their brand – and that's exactly what Audi is doing here," says Hadley Heath Manning, senior policy analyst for the Independent Women's Forum.
"They understand that equality and fairness are values that are very important to the American public," she continues, "and so they're trying to promote their brand on the shoulders of those values. Unfortunately, using the wage gap out of context like this is not only statistically, mathematically the wrong thing to do, but it sends a bad message to women and girls."
Out of context?
"It misuses the wage gap statistic," answers Manning. "When Audi says at the end of their commercial that they're 'committed to equal pay for equal work,' that's good, we can commend that – but anything less in today's economy is not only immoral, it's illegal."
Manning says women have had protections for equal pay in American law since the 1960s when the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act guaranteed that any employer who discriminates on the basis of sex would face legal ramifications.
"So the implication behind this commercial is that there is widespread discrimination against women in the U.S. economy and that there has been for some time – and [it implies that] because of that, young girls and women should be fearful that they aren't being treated fairly."
Meanwhile, Manning says IWF doesn't like misuse of this statistic that shows women make about 80 percent of what men make because that statistic is a raw piece of data.
"It doesn't have the context around it that women need and men need to understand: that the pay disparity is due to many other factors typically driven by individual choices, about profession, education and experience, rather than discrimination," she explains. "It's a disempowering message to send to women to say that we're facing widespread discrimination and that we don't have the same opportunity that men do."