Ford Unit Apologizes For Demeaning Ads

Ford has said it is sorry for print ads depicting three bound and gagged women stuffed in the trunk of an Indian-made compact car. The ads, created by an Indian agency, were never distributed commercially, and were apparently not intended for release.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And our next business story fits into the category of what were they thinking? Ford Motor Company is apologizing for ads sketched up by an agency in India - ads that have been decried as demeaning to women. They are cartoon drawings showing off how spacious a Ford trunk can be. One spoofs Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. He's at the wheel, and in the trunk, three women, tied up.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: The ads were never used commercially. They were created by an ad agency hired in India by Ford, JWT India. The idea is that the trunk of Ford's Figo -a subcompact car - is so roomy, as the ads show, Paris Hilton could fit the Kardashian sisters bound and gagged in the trunk. Or a Formula-one driver, Michael Schumacher, could fit his male rivals - again, bound and gagged - in the trunk.

Ford spokesman Chris Preuss says the ads were part of a creative exercise that was never and would never have been approved by the company.

CHRIS PREUSS: It would impossible to speculate what would leave individuals with the idea that this would be seen as any kind of a creative exercise that would be considered noteworthy or remarkable other than for its indecency and being so contrary to the standards that we all hold to.

GLINTON: The ads have caused a stir, especially given India's recent turmoil over violence against woman. They also come at a particularly bad time for Ford, as the Indian car market becomes increasingly important and India grows its own car business.

Again, Ford's Chris Preuss.

PREUSS: It's brought a lot of embarrassment to the company and we'd just like to move on and make sure it never happens again.

GLINTON: In a statement the ad agency, JWT India, apologized as well, saying, quote, "Actions have been taken within the agency to deal with the situation."

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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