Ford is saying it deeply regrets a series of disturbing print ads from advertising agency JWT India for the automaker's Figo model. The ads, which show various female celebrities bound and gagged in the trunk of a Ford car, were mockups and never meant to go public.
“We deeply regret this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened,” the company said in a statement. “The posters are contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford and our agency partners. Together with our partners, we are reviewing approval and oversight processes to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
JWT India reportedly shared the mockups—which Ford had not approved—with website Ads of the World
to “show off its creative chops,” reports Business Insider
, which spotted the ads and wrote about them on Friday. The mockups were later removed from Ads of the World, but not before going viral. Major media outlets, from Forbes
to Fox News, are covering the story this morning.
WPP, which is the parent company of JWT India, issued this statement:
“We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within WPP Group. These were never intended for paid publication and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the Internet. This was the result of individuals acting without proper oversight and appropriate actions have been taken within the agency where they work to deal with the situation.”
One ad depicts former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi driving a FordFigo with three women bound and gagged in the trunk. The tagline says, “Leave your worries behind with Figo's extra-large boot.” Another ad features Paris Hilton at the wheel, with the three Kardashian sisters tied up in the trunk. Ford’s logo is emblazoned across both ads.
The automaker has not issued an apology on its corporate website, nor acknowledged the matter on its Twitter or Facebook accounts. By Monday morning, people were slamming the company on its Facebook page
“What were you thinking?” the commenter said. “This is insensitive to women worldwide. There is absolutely no justification for such an ad and cannot believe the stupidity of all, including the women, involved in this. A total disgrace.”