Berlusconi's 'tied up women in the boot' send-up gets adman sacked

A controversial series of cartoon adverts, one of which featured Silvio Berlusconi sitting in a car with three bound women in the boot, has cost the creative head of JWT india his job.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

It’s not clear whether Berlusconi has ever been offended by the suggestion that he might be an extremely seedy old man, but his ‘bunga bunga’ reputation has indirectly resulted in employees at JWT India (a unit of Martin Sorrell’s WPP) being sacked. An advert designed for Ford Motors showed Berlusconi sat in a car with a boot full of women wearing tight leather clothing and tied up.

The poster had a caption which read: ‘Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra-large boot.’ The image was also deemed particularly insensitive in India, where just days ago very strict anti-rape laws were passed in response to two horrific gang rapes that took place in the country.

The adverts had not been used commercially, but they had appeared on a website, and JWT was quick to describe them as ‘distasteful and contrary to standards’. The chief creative officer of JWT India, Bobby Pawar, has been asked to leave the firm, and there are also rumours that the creative director of Blue Hive – the unit within JWT that handles the Ford account – has also been asked to gather his things and get out. 

JWT said in a statement: ‘We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency at JWT. After a thorough internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT.

'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 agency will be hoping that Ford doesn’t get shirty about the images, being one of its largest global accounts. 

Berlusconi's reaction to the whole thing remains unknown. Here at MT we wouldn't be surprised if he was flattered by the attention...

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