Ad agency axes staff over outrageous Berlusconi car advertisements

Published: March 27, 2013
Ford India ad

One of the ads featured Paris Hilton apparently kidnapping reality television rivals the Kardashian sisters. Submitted photo

VANCOUVER DESI

Several employees at the Indian branch of ad agency JWT have lost their jobs over a series of controversial advertisements, including one showing former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with a group of bound women in a car trunk, reports the BBC.

JWT, a unit of the world’s biggest advertising group WPP, said the posters were “distasteful and contrary to standards” followed at the firm. The firm’s managing partner, Bobby Pawar, has been asked to leave.

“We deeply regret the publishing of posters,” JWT said in a statement. “After a thorough internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT.”

The controversy saw the Indian unit of Ford Motor Company issue an apology earlier this week. According to some reports, Ford is one of JWT’s biggest global accounts.

One ad showed three women bound and gagged in the trunk of an Indian-made compact, the Ford Figo, with Berlusconi smiling from the driver’s seat alongside the slogan “Leave your worries behind with the Figo’s extra-large boot.”

Similar ads featured Paris Hilton apparently kidnapping reality television rivals the Kardashian sisters — all three sisters tied up and one in a bikini — and Formula One driver Michael Schumacher abducting his male racing competition.

The adverts were never commercially used but were uploaded on the website adsoftheworld.com Friday, just days after India passed strict anti-rape laws.

— With a file from AP

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