JWT Axes Staffers Over Controversial Online Ford Ads

JWT confirmed Tuesday that it was meting out some harsh discipline—including dismissal of certain employees--related to three controversial Ford ads that were posted online March 22.

“After a thorough internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT,” the agency stated.

The actions, the agency added, 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 declined to identify the dismissed staffers and would not say how many employees were exiting as a result of the controversial work.

The ads, which neither the agency nor the client had authorized, were posted by staffers at JWT India to an advertising showcase site called Adsoftheworld.com. All three ads were caricature portrayals of famous people in the driver’s seat of a Ford Figo. Two of the ads featured women bound and gagged in the trunk of the car. 



One ad featured Paris Hilton in the driver’s seat with the Kardashian sisters tied up in the trunk. Earlier today, CNN posted a statement from the Kardashians that said they believed the ads were "disgusting, vile and offensive to all women." The statement also indicated that the sisters were considering all of their “legal options.”

Another ad featured former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi driving with three women tied up in the trunk evoking a sex scandal in which he was embroiled. India is particularly sensitive to the ads, given the ongoing debate there about the abusive treatment of women after a gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus.

“These posters were created by individuals within the agency and did not go through the normal review and oversight process,” JWT stated.

It was not clear how long the ads were up on the Adsoftheworld site, but when the client and agency became aware of them, they were pulled.  A JWT rep said the agency would have no further comment beyond its Tuesday statement. 

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