Ford has apologized for its new India-based ad campaign for the new Ford Figo. The three illustrations used in the ads feature variations on the same theme of violence. One celebrity is in the driver’s seat with his or her competitors or “enemies” bound, gagged, and stuffed in the trunk.
Beneath the image is the tagline, “Leave Your Worries Behind.” From a marketing perspective the tagline is utter nonsense when you’re driving around with criminal victims and evidence in your trunk.
MarketWatch reports that JWT India has fired some of the employees who worked on the campaign. JWT is a subsidiary of British multinational advertising and public relations company WPP PLC. Apparently, the ads hadn’t gone into circulation but were uploaded to a popular industry website Ads of the World, for monthly awards and creative exposure.
Reiterating its apology for the “distasteful” ads, JWT said they “were never intended for paid publication, were never requested by our Ford client and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the internet.”
The ads with women have gained the most attention, given the growing problem of gang rape and violence against women generally in India. In one, Paris Hilton winks over her shoulder while Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian struggle, bound and gagged in their skimpy outfits; in another, notorious Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi rides with black latex girls, mouths plugged BDSM-style.
A third image, which depicts German racecar driver Michael Schumacher driving off with his rivals Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton, drew less criticism.
The Economic Times reported earlier Wednesday that Bobby Pawar, the chief creative officer and managing partner of JWT India, as well as Vijay Simha Vellanki, the creative director at Blue Hive, a WPP unit dedicated to handling the Ford account, have been asked to resign. Both couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. via MarketWatch
The Washington Post reports that India’s lower house of Parliament passed a landmark law last week that sets tougher penalties for rapists and also for police officers who refuse to file the complaints of women who report rape.
The new law comes in the wake of December’s national outcry against the fatal gang rape of a young parademical student in New Delhi. In spite of the increased consciousness about rape, there is no lessening of violence against women in the country.