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Ford's Ad Firm Fires Executives Over Spot Featuring Bound Women in Berlusconi's Trunk

The Associated Press, Thursday, March 28, 2013, 3:15am (PDT)

The Hollywood Reporter -- NEW DELHI – Following Ford Motor Co.'s Indian subsidiary and its advertising agency JWT India's apology over a controversial online ad campaign, the executives responsible for the ads at JWT India have now been fired, according to the firm.

As reported earlier, the offending ad campaign featured a caricature of three-time Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi winking and flashing a peace sign from the driver's seat of a Ford Figo, with three busty women bound and gagged in the car's trunk. Another ad in the same series showed hotel heiress Paris Hilton winking in the driver's seat of a car with socialites Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian tied up in the back, while the third features retired Formula 1 race car champ Michael Schumacher driving away with rivals Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso stashed in the trunk. All three ads feature the tagline, “Leave your worries behind with Figo's extra-large boot,” referring to the car's large trunk.

PHOTOS: Indian Talent Going Global “After a thorough internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action against those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT. These were necessary steps owing to the direct accountability of the concerned individuals as we work to ensure that both the right oversight and processes are strictly enforced so that this never happens again,” JWT India -- which is a unit of WPP, the world's biggest advertising group -- said in a statement Wednesday, without specifying the names of the fired executives. However JWT India chief creative officer and managing partner Bobby Pawar confirmed his resignation as quoted in various media reports: "This incident happened on my watch and as a leader, I have to take moral responsibility for it.” Reports also indicated that the other fired executive was Simha Vellanki, creative director at Blue Hive, a WPP unit managing the Ford India account.

STORY: Ford Apologizes for Ad Featuring Bound-and-Gagged Women in Berlusconi's Trunk (Updated) “We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency at JWT. These were never intended for paid publication, were never requested by our client, Ford, 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,” the JWT India statement added. Ford India also issued a statement expressing regret over the incident, but did not comment on whether it was taking any action against the agency.

Related article on THR.com:

Ford Apologizes for Ad Featuring Bound-and-Gagged Women in Berlusconi's Trunk (Updated)

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Find more online: THR.com

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