Ford Motor Co. and WPP Group's JWT India unit issued an apology over unauthorized ads for the Figo in India, including one that depicts former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tying up and gagging three young women. In an e-mail, Ford of India said the carmaker “deeply regrets” the incident, adding that the ads are contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within the carmaker and its agency partners.
Ford remarked that they are reviewing approval and oversight processes to help ensure “nothing like this ever happens again." Ford is also probing whether anyone at the carmaker has seen the ads, the Associated Press reported, citing a Ford of India spokeswoman.
The Hindu newspaper reported that JWT India created the caricatures and posted them on adsoftheworld.com, a site that showcases creative advertising. The paper noted that the ads were already deleted and weren't used commercially. The ads featured a celebrity – one of which included Paris Hilton -- posing after tying up three women and placing them in the trunk of a Ford Figo.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Ford's tagline for the Figo touts its luggage capacity. Chris Preuss, spokesman for Ford remarked the ads were part of a creative exercise by JWT India, adding that they were intended as concepts to test reactions for an advertising competition.
He also reiterated that the ads were not commissioned by Ford nor intended to be part of a Ford campaign. In a statement, WPP called the ads distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within the group, AP report added. WPP said the ads were never intended for paid publication, noting that they should never have been created or uploaded to the Internet.