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Ford India and British ad agency the WPP Group have apologised for a series of unauthorised and indecent caricature ads for the Ford Figo in India.

Produced by JWT India, a subsidiary of the WPP Group, and aimed at the Indian market, the three Ford Figo ads show variations of the same theme, with one celebrity in the small car’s front seat and three people bound and gagged in the boot.

One ad portrays former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the driver’s seat with three women – two of whom are reportedly caricatures of Nicole Minetti and Karima El Mahroug, both associated with Berlusconi’s recent political and legal troubles – tied up in the back.

A second ad depicts Paris Hilton with the Kardashian sisters in the Figo’s boot, while a third has former Formula One driver Michael Schumacher up front and Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the rear.

Ford Figo Ad - 2

All the ads use the tagline, “Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra-large boot.”

According to Indian newspaper The Hindu, the JWT India team posted the Berlusconi ad onto the creative advertising website Ads of the World without official approval.

Ford India apologised for the ad in a statement to The Hindu, stressing that the ad had not been run anywhere.

“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 Figo Ad - 3

The WPP Group also made an apology via a statement.

“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.”

Industry journal Automotive News reports that Ford spokesman Chris Preuss said the ads were part of a creative exercise by JWT’s India unit, intended as concepts to test reactions for an advertising competition. Preuss said they were not commissioned by Ford and not intended to be part of a Ford campaign.

According to The Hindu, the ads have since been deleted and were not used commercially.

The Ford Figo is manufactured by Ford India in Chennai and is based on the Mark 5 European Ford Fiesta.


  • Zeh7o

    I agree the ads are kind of creepy (specially for India), but leaving political correctness aside, I still find it funny!

  • Golfschwein

    Hilarious and offensive. I can say that because I’m a Libran, see. 

  • Golfschwein

    And not a rear seat head restraint to be seen. Artistic licence or the state of play, I wonder?

    • $29896495

      That car is an old Fiesta to us.

      • Golfschwein

        I know.

      • Golf

        Read very last sentence :)

        • $29896495

          oops missed it

  • Steve2013

    I call shotgun in Berlusconi’s car. That guy knows how to party.

  • Laurie

    hmm reminds me of the Pirelli calendars 

  • Poison_Eagle

    I can see how the Berlsuconi one would be offensive in the wake of the New Delhi bus incident. The others are funny and I don’t see whats offensive about them. God forbid their advertising have a little soul, and not head in the direction their cars are heading…

  • Deutsch

    There is nothing offensive about these advertisements in the Western Hollywood world…. we are all too sensitive these days and take things far too seriously. Yet, in wake of the treatment of women especially in India with the recent terrible incident, this could be too soon to see women bound and gagged in Indian commercials and print media…. 

    • $29896495

      “Western Hollywood” ? It’s just bad timing with the rapes. Which are a cultural mistreatment of women in India. Together with burning and maiming. Under normal circumstances in India women are considered chattel ”not human”, not worth anything. Many Indian males probably still got a good laugh at it.

      • Deutsch

        This was in the Western world of Hollywood context, where a famous person gets their knickers in a knot over a bad photo, imagine what a bound and gagged cartoon would do to the Kardashians…. It is bad timing, Cows are treated better than women in India and have more rights, so for Indian women this is just typical pathetic male Indian behaviour they have come to know and expect from their society. I can bet a male was at the pen with the drawing of the cartoons… 

        • Nujee

           Being from indian background- i agree 100%. Indians really are incredibly hypocritical and oblivious to their own faults.

        • F1orce

          If cows get better treatment, then so be it..

          None of your business. Their country, their rules.

    • Nujee

       These ads would do fine in india too, but for the timing. indian ads have always been a little out there and extremely creative. this one is just a little inappropriate given recent history……..

  • The Real Wile E

    Looks like a MAD magazine rip off

  • Crazy n00b

    If the ads are for India, why don’t they use Indian stars?

    • $29896495

      Because India men aspire to white women.

      • The Real Wile E

        So who aspires to Indian women?

        • $29896495

          No one that I know of.

  • JamesB

    Kourtney should be smaller and Khloe bigger.