Ford’s Apology Tour: What am I missing?

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Print advertising tells the richest historical narrative. Unlike television or animated digital ads, print has one shot, one image and static text that is expected to not only brand a product, it is also required to motivate sales and inspire an immediate call to action. It’s the reason I love the Regional Design Annual and why I’m looking forward to finding out the winners this year. I wonder if it will include political ads. It will most like have ads for electronics and health conscious campaigns. Last year was definitely interesting. If you haven’t entered, please consider it. Winners are showcased by region and the stories they tell are illuminating.

But this year, we’ve already started off on an awkward foot. At least Ford India has and I doubt this ad is going to be entered anywhere, must less lit on fire and destroyed. Keep in mind the scrutiny India has endured of late on issues of women. Then consider the Ford India campaign produced by JWT India and posted on Ads of the World website.


The tagline says, “Leave your worries behind with Ford Figo’s extra large boot.” So, the purpose of the illustration/print ad was to put something in the boot that showcased all the roominess. Apparently, scantily clad women bound and gagged appeared to be the best visual choice to the ad agency and Ford India. And, yes that driver is the former Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi. What product was the ad for again?

I suppose nothing says 2013 like the Kardashians so JWT India put them in the boot as well, gagged, bound and curvy. Paris Hilton is driving.


Ford India, JWT India and WPP, Ford’s ad agency of record of the parent company of JWT India has been hurling statements and fingers since the story broke:

WPP is putting the blame on “individuals acting without proper oversight,” according to a statement WPP sent via email to the Huffington Post. And, not at all unexpected, “appropriate actions have been taken within the agency where they work to deal with the situation.” posted Ford’s statement, “The cartoonish drawings were never part of a paid campaign but were part of ‘a creative exercise by a team that was submitting for an ad competition,’ according to Chris Preuss, Ford spokesman for WPP. “They were actually posters uploaded to a website, which is where it all took off from.”

And, the Economic Times reported “A Ford India spokeswoman said Monday that the company is investigating whether anyone at the automaker ever saw the print ads.”

Yes, the ads say a lot more than “extra large boot,” but I also had to wonder if the image depicts proper scale. How big is that boot anyway that it can fit three grown women albeit with their arms tied behind their backs and their feet bound. So, I did some calculations.

The boot is 284 litres = 75 gallon tank = 48.5 inches long, 18.5 inches wide and 21.4 inches high. Khloe Kardashian if five feet 10 inches tall or 70 inches long. So, I’m not sure buying the Ford Figo will actually mean as much room as is suggested. Not only is the ad offensive, it is not exactly showing true size.

There is one final image that I’ll leave you with to compare to the other two. You can analyze why the men are wearing uniforms (they don’t fit either).

In the meantime, I’m curious to know what our Print audience thinks. How did these images get so far down the creative process? Any insight on the scale? What am I missing?


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