An advertising agency in India hired by Ford to promote the carmaker’s popular Figo model posted several controversial ads on the Internet, including one featuring three bound and gagged women stuffed in the trunk of a car being driven by Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, infamous for his sex parties and suspicions of sex with underage girls.
Another ad showed Paris Hilton apparently kidnapping the three Kardashian sisters, who also were bound and gagged in a car's trunk. A third featured race car driver Michael Schumacher with bound and gagged race car drivers in the back.
The mocked-up ads, intended to illustrate the extra-large trunk size of the Indian-made compact hatchback, immediately raised an uproar.
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The Figo ad fiasco comes in the wake of violence against women legislation, known as the Anti-Rape Bill, passed just days earlier by the Indian parliament.
The ads were created by the advertising agency JWT India. The posters appeared on the website adsoftheworld.com a website promoting creative advertising
They’ve since been pulled off the site but not before being permanently enshrined on YouTube
"We deeply regret this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened," a Ford spokesman told the BBC
. He said the company is “reviewing approval and oversight processes, and taking necessary steps to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. "
It's unclear whether anyone at Ford ever saw the posters before they were uploaded to the Internet. The posters, carrying the Ford logo, were never released for public consumption. Ford called the mock-ups "contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford."
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Outside of India, the Figo is known as the Ford Fiesta or the Ikon hatchback. It has won around 20 Indian auto industry awards since its introduction in India in 2010.
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