MUMBAI: Four days after a series of posters for Ford Figo caused international outrage, heads have rolled at its ad agency. Bobby Pawar, JWT India’s chief creative officer & managing partner, as well as Vijay SimhaVellanki, creative director at Blue Hive, a WPP unit dedicated to managing the Ford business, have been asked to resign.
A statement from JWT India said, “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.”
Pawar, in an email to ET, said, “What happened is unfortunate. But no matter what the circumstances, it did happen on my watch.”JWT is also planning a revamp of the Blue Hive creative team – a crucial step, given that Ford is JWT’s largest client, with a global ad budget of over $2 billion.
An earlier statement from JWT India, apologising for the work, said the ads were “the work of individuals working without proper supervision”.The most offensive ad showed Italy’s former PM Silvio Berlusconi driving a Ford Figo, smiling and making the ‘peace’ sign as three scantily clad women lie tied up in the trunk.
However, both Pawar and Vellanki were credited as the creative directors of the offensive ads. Most damning, however, was the fact that these ads were entered by JWT in the annual Ad Club awards – evidence that they had indeed been reviewed by senior creative management of the agency.