JWT India, the Indian arm of global advertising giant WPP, produced Ford Figo ads for the annual Ad Club awards. These controversial ads that depicted women in poor light caught global attention hours after Team ICB broke this story. Within hours of Team ICB’s publishing of this story, both Ford India and JWT India came out in strong condemnation of the Ads with both companies expressing regret for the ads. Amidst international uproar over the Ads, JWT India has gone a step ahead and has sacked its chief creative officer and managing partner, Mr Bobby Pawar. Another t0p executive in charge of the Ford India account at JWT India, Mr Vijay Simha Vellanki, is also in the firing line.
Here’s JWTIndia’s official statement regarding Mr Pawar’s exit from the Advertising Agency,
After an internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT. These were necessary steps owing to the direct accountability of the individuals as we work to ensure that both the right oversight and processes are strictly enforced so that this never happens again.
The firing of a top Ad executive is expected to send out a strong message to the advertising community, especially when it comes to the publishing of sexist ads. While reactions to the sexist Ford Figo ads in India, a country which is grappling with the urgent issue of protecting its women from gender violence, remains restrained, the controversial Ads have attracted greater condemnation across most parts of the developed world. All said, it is heartening to note that both JWT India and Ford India, through their actions, have sent out a strong message in condemning sexist ads. On the other hand, Volkswagen India, another car maker caught on the wrong foot, conveniently chose to delete its offensive tweet, choosing not to confront the issue.