JWT India is taking serious action against a young creative after an ad featuring Silvio Berlusconi driving a Ford car with three women bound and gagged in the boot appeared online on Friday 22 March.
The poster, which was not approved by JWT’s client Ford India, was posted with two others on the website Adsoftheworld.com but all three have since been removed.
A spokesman for JWT’s holding company WPP said the work should "never have been created, let alone uploaded to the internet".
The second ad showed a caricature of reality stars the Kardashians, tied up in the boot of a Ford Figo being driven by Paris Hilton, and the third featured Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher apparently kidnapping another racing driver.
A creative at JWT’s Indian agency is understood to have uploaded the posters to the website and it is unclear whether anyone from Ford India had seen the work.
The WPP spokesman 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. 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."
The work has received particular criticism because of the recent violence against women in India in recent months.
Ford India is now reviewing its approval processes. A spokesman said: "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."
It is not the first time work produced by WPP network agencies have caused controversy. Last year an Argentinean ad made by Y&R was criticised for showing a sportsman training on a war memorial on the Falkland Islands.
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