Ford India’s ad agency puts foot in mouth, apologises

25 Mar 2013


Ford Motors India has been reduced to issuing a prompt apology for an ad campaign that offends all human sensibilities, to say nothing of the potential backlash from the country's omnipresent moral police.

The ads showed well-endowed ladies in minimal clothing gagged, bound and packed in the boot of Ford India's Figo model.

The images appeared over the weekend on a website showcasing creative ads.

Featuring the Ford logo, one of them showed three women in the trunk of a Figo, with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi showing a 'V' sign, from the driver seat.

''Leave your worries behind,'' said the slogan.

The ad is obviously conceived as a take-off on Berlusconi's penchant for girls - preferably in the plural. But the campaign would be considered sexist even in liberal countries, besides verging on the libellous.

Another version shows wealthy socialite Paris Hilton similarly kidnapping a trio of adult movie stars, while a third has Michael Schumacher toting in the boot other Formula I racing stars - Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton.

Never used commercially, the ad was reportedly posted online by its creators at an ad agency hired by Ford.

In a statement, WPP Group which made the ads, expressed regret and said that they should never have been created in the first place.

''WPP deeply regrets the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within,'' said the ad company.

''Perhaps the creative brains at the agency mistook India for China,'' said a commentator caustically. ''They may not have realised that website access is not so strictly regulated here.''

Ford Motor Co, the US parent of Ford India, also issued a statement saying that it ''deeply regrets this incident'' and ''agrees with our agency partners that it should have never have happened''.

A spokesperson said the company is investigating whether anyone at Ford ever saw the ad.

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