Ford India Private Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of American car maker Ford Motor Company, has been chided by the entire automobile industry and press media, for its latest offensive ad campaigns that surfaced on the internet recently. The ad posters featured scantily clad women in embarrassing situations- bound, gagged and stuffed in the luggage compartment of the Ford Figo compact hatch. Further, the provocative and distasteful Figo ads were given the tag line- “Leave your worries behind with the Figo's extra-large boot.”
The American car maker's disrespectful ad campaign has annoyed the press and sentiments of Indians particularly women, because it portrays them in a manner that hurt the feminine spirit. As per reports, 3 Ford Figo ads had surfaced on the internet, with one of them depicting the ex-Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi giving a 'peace out' sign to three barely clad women stuffed in boot of the Ford Figo. Berlusconi's caricature attracted a lot of ridicule, whereas the portrayal of gagged and bound women has agonised the sentiments of Indians.
Another ad featured Paris Hilton, a socialite and Hilton Group heiress, winking and smiling over the three scantily clad Kardashian sisters- Kim, Khloe and Kourtney stuffed in Figo's boot. The scene appeared as if Hilton was kidnapping the Kardashians, popular American reality TV show stars, which again depicted women in an offensive manner. The ad created a major uproar among the internet users and came at a sensitive situation, as the Indian Government had just passed a law on violence against women. Evidently, the country is yet to come terms with the unfortunate gang rape of a medical student on a bus in December 2012, which led to mass protests regarding the unacceptable status of women in India.
The third ad had a touch of the rivalry among the top Formula One racers, such as Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Like the other two ads, Schumacher is smiling from the driver's seat, while Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso are sitting gagged in the boot with their hands bound.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Ford India expressed deep regret and quoted in a statement that they “deeply regrets this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened.” Regarding the provocative images, the company added that they were "contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford."