JWT Sacks Staff Responsible for Sexually Offensive Ford Ads
The fallout from Ford’s India ad uproar includes an apology from the automaker, the sacking of the ad agency staff who created the offensive ad and a reassurance from Ford that it will not leave JWT or WPP over the PR crisis.
“Ford spokesman Chris Preuss told Ad Age. “Obviously, appropriate actions will be taken up to and including the dismissal of individuals who were found to be culpable.” An agency insider admitted that the client was presented with this advert weeks before the crisis broke out and the staff were made a scapegoat.
The mess began several days ago when a series of sexually offensive ads created JWT India showing women bound and gagged in the trunk of Ford hatchback were uploaded to the website Ads of the World.
The controversial posters were uploaded for public view at a time when India is in crisis over sexual assaults on women. The brutal gang rape of a 23-year old student in New Delhi in December drew worldwide attention. The woman died from her injuries several weeks later. India recently approved a more stringent law to punish sex criminals.
One of the ads depicted reality TV star Paris Hilton with what appears to be Kim Kardashian and her two sisters tied up in the trunk of her car. The tagline: “Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra large boot.” Another showed Silvio Berlusconi, former Prime Minister of Italy, who was embroiled in a sex scandal of his own. In it, he’s flashing a victory sign while three half-dressed women struggle against their bonds.
Pavan Sukhdev of Conservation international went one further, arguing that JWT India’s Berlusconni scandal is a sign that the “advertising profession repeatedly exploits women, objectifying them to sell products.”
The swift dismissal of the JWT India employees responsible for the ads is a sign that the agency is trying to make good on the blunder. Ford has been involved in blunders before when the agency took a European advert with white family and coloured the people black to resemble black family.
Ford is now under pressure to review the account and penalise JWT for the damage the car manufacturer will be suffering for the years to come.