Ford Regrets "Distasteful" Ads

Ford is doing damage control after a PR firm created two ads showing a Figo truck with women tied up and gagged. In one ad, the driver is former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, in the other, Paris Hilton (with Kardashians in tow). The tag line for both ads is "Leave your worries behind with Figo's extra-large boot."

Ford ad

Ford ad2

JWT India, the PR firm, admitted to creating the ads as mock-ups, or creative examples, without Ford's approval. Still, WPP, JWT's parent company repudiated the ads:

"We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within WPP Group. These were never intended for paid publication and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the Internet. This was the result of individuals acting without proper oversight and appropriate actions have been taken within the agency where they work to deal with the situation."

Although the company wasn't involved in the design, Ford submitted its own statement to explain the ads:

"We deeply regret this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened. The posters are contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford and our agency partners. Together with our partners, we are reviewing approval and oversight processes to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

Discussion Starters:

  • Consider the view of JTW's creative team. What is possibly their defense of the ads?
  • Assess the two companies' statements. In what ways did they handle the response well, and how could they have improved the response?