Employees of an advertising agency were sacked recently after publishing a series of controversial adverts depicting celebrities tied up and gagged in the back of a Ford car.
In one of its ads, advertising group WPP showed ex-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi sat at the wheel of a Ford Figo throwing a peace sign while glancing back at three scantily clad women who were bound and gagged in the boot. The slogan underneath read: “Leave your worries behind. With Figo’s extra-large boot”
Another advert depicted Paris Hilton kidnapping the Kardashian sisters, all bound and gagged, in the boot.
The ads were never used in any Ford campaign, but were uploaded to an international avertising Web site that gives awards for ads submitted by users. They have since been removed from the site, but have spread like wildfire through social media sites.
The ads provoked complaints, not least from some of the celebrities involved, and have led to the resignations of Bobby Pawar, the chief creative officer and managing partner at JWT India, and Vijay Simha Vellanki, the creative director at Blue Hive, a WPP division tasked with managing Ford’s advertising.
“As a leader, this incident happened on my watch,” Mr. Pawar told The Hindu. “I have to take moral responsibility for it.”
It has been reported that the entire creative team of about 10 employees were asked to leave the company.
Ford has apologised for the ads, claiming they were the result of “individuals acting without proper oversight.”
The Kardashians are reportedly considering legal action and have released a statement saying: “It is unacceptable that Ford would align itself with an ad agency that would so carelessly release these ads. The Kardashians do not take this lightly and they are exploring all of their legal options.”
Are the ads just a bit of light-hearted banter or are they a bridge too far? Let us know your thoughts.