Ford India on Monday apologised over advertisements that portrayed women in a derogatory manner, including one in which former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been shown carrying three gagged and tied women in the trunk of a car.
The company had drawn flak from different quarters for the posters, one of which also depicted socialite Paris Hilton hauling the three Kardashian sisters (American reality TV stars) in the trunk of the its Figo hatchback with a tagline -- 'Leave your worries behind with Figo's extra-large boot'.
"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," Ford India said in a statement.
JWT India had created the campaign for Ford Figo. Another controversial poster depicted ex-Formula 1 multiple world champion Michael Schumacher tugging rivals Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, tied and gagged in the boot of the car.
"Together with our partners, we are reviewing approval and oversight processes to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again," the statement added.
“Also, would like to share - these posters are against the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford and our agency partners and they were never intended to be advertisements," it added.
In a separate statement, JWT's parent WPP said: "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, it added.
"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," WPP said.