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Controversial Ford ads were entered in big Indian awards - then pulled

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

March 27, 2013 | 3 min read

JWT India entered the controversial Ford Figo poster ads in India's leading Goafest Abby ad awards - then tried to withdraw them last Friday in the middle of the judging after controversy erupted outside India, it is revealed in an AdAge report today.

Controversial Figo ad - with 'Berlusconi'

The posters, showing women bound and gagged in the trunk of a Ford Figo hatchback, were slammed when they were uploaded to the website Ads of the World. With India reeling from controversy over the prevalence of rape, both JWT and Ford quickly apologised.

Neither mentioned, said AdAge, that the ads, including a letter of approval from the client, had been entered at Goafest by a senior JWT India executive.

Goafest official Shashi Sinha told Ad Age that JWT called festival officials on Friday in an effort to remove the Ford Figo ads from the judging.

This was followed up, as required, with a request in writing from the executive who entered the work: Bobby Pawar, the chief creative officer and managing partner of JWT India.

Pawar is one of a group of executives JWT referred to but didn't name in an earlier statement . This said. "After a thorough internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT."

Pawar has been at JWT since January 2012, He was previously chief creative officer of DDB Mudra Group, group creative director at Energy BBDO and senior partner and creative director at Ogilvy & Mather.

According to executives in India "familiar with the matter", says AdAge, Vijay Sinha, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as "VP and senior creative director at Global Team Ford at JWT" has also been dismissed.

JWT India did not respond to a request for comment. Ford yesterday told Ad Age that despite the fake ad scandal, it will keep its relationship with JWT India intact.

Earlier today it was reported that the team behind the adverts had left the agency as a result of the fake campaign.

Ford J. Walter Thompson

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