The world of advertising is very competitive where businesses pay lots of money just for a thirty second spot on television. Ads that run in print are also expensive and advertising companies need to come up with new and eye-catching ways to get consumers to not only read the advertisement, but persuade them that it is important to buy the product as well.
Though recent ads from Ford Motor Company succeeded in getting the attention of consumers, the desired result became the exact opposite and made people feel disgusted towards the automaker.
As a result, Ford Motors Indian unit has quickly apologized for the ads that are demeaning towards women. Including one that shows Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and three women bound and gagged in the trunk of a car.
A spokeswoman for Ford India said on Monday that an investigation is ongoing as to if anyone at the company were shown the print ads. Though the ads were not used commercially, they did appear on a website demonstrating creative advertising over the weekend.
With India recently passing a new law regarding violence against women, the ads obviously created an uproar. The new law was established as a result of a fatal gang rape of a student that occurred on a bus and motivated mass protests as well as showing how women in India were being treated.
According to FirstPost.Business, the pictures were “scam ads — ads that are created not to sell products and services, but to win awards at awards shows such as the Abby or at Cannes.”
Though three ads were sent to the website and eventually removed, the one that seems to have received the most attention was the Berlusconi ad. The ad shows three scantily-clad women that have their feet and hands bound while their mouths are gagged. A man is in the driver’s seat grinning as he looks back flashing a peace sign has a slogan appearing next to him that says “Leave your worries behind with the Figo’s extra-large boot.” The man looks like Silvio Berlusconi who is the former Prime Minister of Italy. The former Prime Minister was known for throwing wild “bunga bunga” parties and is facing charges where he paid for sex with a woman who was underage.
The ad also featured Ford’s logo and three gagged and bound women inside the trunk of the Ford Figo, an Indian-made compact. Berlusconi was in the driver’s seat smiling with the slogan “Leave your worries behind with the Figo’s extra-large boot.”
Other similar ads ran with one showing Paris Hilton supposedly abducting the Kardashian sisters where the three of them were tied up as one was illustrated wearing a bikini. Also, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher appeared in an ad as he was kidnapping his male competitors.
On Monday, Ford stated how they are sorry for the incident and called the pictures “contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford.” Advertising agency JWT India created the ads and they were seen Friday on the website adsoftheworld.com.
One headline on a blog from “Slate” read “Ford India Needs to Fire Its Advertising Execs” while on Twitter, Indians responded with posts featuring the terms “Disgusting!” and “SHAME.”
As of Monday, it was not known if anyone from Ford India had seen or approved of the ads. Sethi Deepti, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an email that, “We take this very seriously and are reviewing approval and oversight processes, and taking necessary steps to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Also condemning the ads was JWT advertising’s parent company, the British advertising and public relations giant WPP Group. A company statement was issued where they said, “We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within WPP Group.”
The company also said that “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.”
Ford ad causes uproar in India
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