The company’s Indian advertising agency, JWT India, fired an undisclosed number of employees involved in the ads, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Jim Farley, Ford’s global marketing chief, said 3/27 at the New York International Auto Show that the ads for the Ford Figo (sold in India) had been inappropriate and that the company was updating its review process, WSJ said.
The ads had drawn criticism from the public as well as the media with many finding them distasteful, especially in light of the current political climate in India where the government is trying to grapple with violence against women, reported MSN News.
The ads, which were never part of an official campaign, were posted on the Internet. According to Business Insider, a team from JWT India, Ford Figo’s AOR, created the ads and posted them online on the site Ads of the World without approval from Ford.
The Indian newspaper Economic Times reported that the ads have resulted in JWT and Ford being accused of “everything from endorsing rape culture to supporting the corrupt lifestyle of [Berlusconi].”
The ad’s tagline: “Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra-large boot,” shows Berlusconi making the peace sign as he rides away with three women in the trunk, alluding to his escapades with young women.
Another mock ad shows Paris Hilton winking as she drives away with the Kardashian sisters, all of them gagged, tied and wearing revealing clothing.
One more ad shows Formula 1 race car driver Michael Schumacher driving with F1 champions Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton gagged and tied-up in the trunk.
See the ads here:
“We deeply regret this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened,” Ford 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,” the statement added.
WPP, JWT’s parent, issued a separate apology, saying that the caricature drawings were not part of a paid ad campaign.
“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,” WPP said.
RBR-TVBR observation: While the internet represents the biggest technological breakthrough in the past 50 years, it has caused the downfall of many who carelessly think a simple post or upload will only be seen by intended recipients. Millions upon millions can spread a faux pas globally in minutes. Social media apps amplify that phenomenon ten-fold. So bottom line—think twice before you and your employees post or upload anything!