Last summer on family vacation in India, I was impressed by the number of different brand name cars on city streets. When I lived there in the early 90s, there were maybe 3 or 4 brands, including the Ambassador cars that are seriously built like tanks. One of the popular car companies is Ford, which is dealing with an advertising and PR disaster this week, thanks to its new ad.
Different versions of the ad show different drivers, but with the three women tied up in the back. Combined with the text “Leave your worries behind,” I’m not the only one wondering ,what were they thinking? The first ad (above) depicts Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with the three women tied and gagged while the second ad (below) shows a caricature of Paris Hilton with the three Kardashians.
The ad never formally ran but were picked up on the internet. Cultural offensiveness aside, while India is still quite conservative in many ways, this ad offensive to women in general. I’m no fan of the Kardashians, but that doesn’t mean I’d condone even the idea of violence against them.
Ford’s advertising agency has issued an apology for the ad:
We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within WPP Group,” it said. “These posters 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.”
In other news, there are probably a few not-so-smart ad people back on the job market in India…