Commercial Controversy


Ford Figo’s tasteless and controversial ads shocks everyone

JWT India is facing a lot of criticism today because the creative team came up with three controversial ads for Ford Figo. A division within the agency uploaded the unapproved ads on a site called The photos not only portrayed women in a disrespectful way, but they also showed famous personalities in an insulting manner.

The ad’s tagline was “Leave your worries behind. With Figo’s Extra Large Boot”. The tagline itself is quite catchy and creative, but the ad’s visual content took it to a strange level. Instead of showing luggage in the trunk, they decided to put tied up and gagged human beings in the trunk. Not only was this creepy in general, the women were made with barely any clothes on and it had famous, controversial personalities.

The first had Paris Hilton driving the car with the Kardashians tied up in the trunk. Hilton is shown winking while the Kardashians are shown in minimal clothing and just thrown in.


All these women are constantly in the limelight for sex scandals, legal issues, their clothes, or their lifestyle. They are also reality TV rivals.

The second ad had former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi driving with a big grin on his face and in the trunk are the women who brought him down with a sex scandal. He was forced to resign after the hype.


This ad not only portrays the defamation of the former leader in a tasteless manner, it can also spark controversies with the already tainted relationship of Italy and India.

The third ad had Michael Schumacher with Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso tied up in the trunk.


They are F1 racecar drivers and the ad shows how Schumacher is getting rid of his competition to win.

All of these ads have famous people with the actions exaggerated to a point where it becomes offensive. The women are shown wearing skimpy clothes and bound, a chauvinistic attitude towards the treatment of women and making them objects. After the outrage over the rape cases and the perspective of men towards women in India, these pictures just fuel the anger.

Apparently the ads were not paid for and weren’t properly released. They were not meant for commercial use but they were still uploaded on the internet. When images are released across the web, it stays there and goes viral. The ads may have been removed from the original website but they are still easily accessible.

The WPP group (parent of the JWT) and Ford apologized for the ads.

(As told to Fox News)

“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.”

Ford spokeswoman Sethi Deepti ensured that there was no intention for these ads to be publicized. (As told to NY Daily News)

“We take this very seriously and are reviewing approval and oversight processes, and taking necessary steps to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

The CEO of JWT India Colvyn Harris also apologized for the pictures. (As told to Economic Times)

“These were made as posters by individuals. They have never been paid for and were not expected to be released,”

These ads throw a bad light on the people depicted in them. Not only do they defame the ‘drivers’ in the ad, but also the victims. This ad shows a lack of decency and maturity in the company.



Showing women stuffed in trunks of cars just reflects the attitude of men towards women. Even if the intention wasn’t as malicious as we perceive it, there was nothing uplifting in it, either. Tying up people and putting them in the trunks of your cars just highlights the criminal intent of many in the country, no matter how ‘clever’ people thought it to be.

Taking below-the-belt hits at famous personalities does not show creativity but desperation and insensitive. The Schumacher ad may be taken in a good stride but there is no excuse for the other two. Even if it were just for fun, we’d like to hear the explanations for the busting seams of the clothes and the ball gags in the women’s mouths.

Ads earn their points for creativity and content; the popularity of the ad also determines the product’s fate.

But does it mean that companies start going to such low levels to get the required attention?

People may find the ads clever or funny, but it might be safe to say that this big splotch on Ford’s reputation may cost them a good number of sales.

Ambika Chauhan

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