WPP's Indian Unit Sacks Employees Over Ford Figo's Sexist Advertisement Series

on March 27 2013 3:42 AM

JWT, the Indian arm of the advertising major WPP (WPP.L) has sacked its employees involved in a controversial sexist advertisement series that featured ex-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, socialite Paris Hilton and Kardashians.

The advertisement posters dubbed as “sexist’’ and “offensive” by the media was designed by JWT India’s employees and were published in ‘Ads of the world’ website even before it was approved.

Both WPP and Ford Motors India had apologized for the advertising blunder that created uproar over its portrayal of women in poor taste, at a time when India is struggling to check rising crimes against women. The companies had withdrawn the ads and said the ads were not meant for paid publication and were not approved by Ford or WPP.

"We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency at JWT," WPP said.

"These were never intended for paid publication, were never requested by our Ford client and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the Internet," company said in a statement Monday.

Apparently, WPP initiated disciplinary action against the employees involved in the creation and publishing of the advertisement, Reuters reported.

"These posters were created by individuals within the agency and did not go through the normal review and oversight process. After a thorough internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT," WPP said, according to a Reuters report.

The advertisement posters, showed a caricature of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi flashing a peace sign from the driver’s seat, while three scantily clad voluptuous women, gagged and handcuffed are spotted stuffed in the car trunk.

Another version of the advertisement that features socialite Paris Hilton and Kardashian sisters also appears equally insipid. The poster has a caricature of Paris Hilton winking from the driver’s seat with the Kardashian trio – Kim Kardashian and her two sisters – gagged, bound and held captive in a Ford Figo boot.

A third version has Michael Schumacher kidnapping Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton in a similar fashion, according to a Huffington Post report.

The advertisement had the tagline: “Leave your worries behind with Figo's extra-large boot.”  The advertisement endeavored to highlight the extra-large boot space in Ford’s hatchback model, but apparently ended up promoting violence against women.  

See the pictures here.

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