March 26, 2013 in Business

Ford India apologizes for racy advertising

Leaked illustration decried as demeaning
Associated Press
 

MUMBAI, India – The Indian unit of Ford Motor Co. has apologized for advertisements decried as demeaning to women, including one depicting a cartoon Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, with a trio of bound women in the trunk of a car.

A Ford India spokeswoman said Monday that the company is investigating whether anyone at the automaker ever saw the print ads, which were never used commercially but appeared over the weekend on a website showcasing creative advertising.

The ads caused an uproar online and came just after India passed a new law on violence against women following a fatal gang rape of a student on a bus that prompted mass protests and spotlighted the status of women in India.

Featuring Ford’s logo, one ad showed three women bound and gagged in the trunk of an Indian-made compact, the Ford Figo, with Berlusconi smiling from the driver’s seat alongside the slogan “Leave your worries behind with the Figo’s extra-large boot.”

Similar ads featured Paris Hilton apparently kidnapping reality television rivals the Kardashian sisters – all three sisters tied up and one in a bikini – and Formula One driver Michael Schumacher abducting his male racing competition.

Ford said Monday that it regrets the incident, calling the images “contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford.”

The ads were created at advertising agency JWT India and appeared on the website adsoftheworld.com late Friday.

“We take this very seriously and are reviewing approval and oversight processes, and taking necessary steps to ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” Ford spokeswoman Sethi Deepti said by email.

JWT advertising’s parent company, British advertising and public relations giant WPP Group, also condemned the ads.

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