Execs Fired Over Ford Ads Starring Silvio Berlusconi With Tied And Gagged Women

silvio berlusconi ford ad

Ads of the World

Here's the controversial Ford Figo ad. Click to enlarge.

The creatives from JWT India responsible for making and then leaking a headline-inducing Ford Figo ad — in which controversy-laden Silvio Berlusconi flashes a "V" for victory in a car with tied, gagged, and crying women are trapped in the trunk — have been fired.

The ad occured despite two gang rapes in India that have put the way women are treated in that country into the spotlight.

Business Insider found the since-removed ads on Ads of the World last Thursday and informed a surprised Ford and JWT, based in the US.

By the next day both Ford and holding company JWT sent us their official apologies. A young creative team had made the ad and then released it to the echo chamber of the internet without approval. Ad Age reports that it was even submitted to India's biggest ad awards show. (PR disasters in which foreign agencies release unapproved, controversial ads for wholesome brands are actually quite common.)

Ford spokesman Chris Preuss told Ad Age, "The investigation over what happened is ongoing. Obviously, appropriate actions will be taken up to and including the dismissal of individuals who were found to be culpable."

That translates to the firing of staff members involved in the snafu. Indian Cars Bikes released the names of those on the chopping block as chief executive officer and managing partner Bobby Pawar and Vijay Simha Vellanki. ICB reports that Pawar was fired and Vellanki is at risk.

JWT India released the statement: "After an internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT. These were necessary steps owing to the direct accountability of the individuals as we work to ensure that both the right oversight and processes are strictly enforced so that this never happens again."

At this point, JWT India is still Ford Figo's agency of record.