In case you can’t read that tiny print at the bottom of this ad it says, “Leave your worries behind,” as in, you know, the trunk of your new Ford Figo. That creepy looking cartoon guy? Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is facing criminal charges for underage prostitution and tax evasion, including using his position in the Government to pay off those that knew about his predilection for prostitutes. Talk about wishful thinking on his behalf.
This poster, conceived by JWT India, a subgroup of WWP global media agency, was created for an advertising contest and though it was never approved for use beyond the competition, it appeared on the Internet in India, causing a media storm and public outrage. India is already struggling with how to handle violence against women, and seeing ads like this appear online alongside all the media attention surrounding the repeated accounts of gang rape and murder is not helping.
This is not the first time the sensation surrounding Berlusconi’s trial has been included in a cartoon, however, it is the first time it was used for profit rather than satire.
Jim Farley, the head of global marketing at Ford, and several members of the JWT agency have publically apologized for the incident and taken action against the creative minds behind it, including firing the managing partner and creative director of JWT and WWP, as well as a Ford employee who saw the ad and approved it for use. Ford will maintain a relationship with the agency despite the backlash, however said in a statement, "The posters are contrary to our values and everything we believe in. We sincerely apologize that they ever were created."
The ad agency claims that the ads “were never intended for paid publication and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the Internet. These posters were created by individuals within the agency and did not go through the normal review and oversight process.” There is no clear understanding if the posters won the contest or not before moving into the public spotlight, but for the sake of all parties involved, let’s hope not.
Images via USAtoday.com and thegaurdian.uk