Ford marketing chief Jim Farley apologises over controversial ads after JWT India ad team sacked

Controversy: The ads caused uproar when they emerged online

Ford marketing chief Jim Farley has apologised for the controversy around a series of poster ads created by WPP agency JWT India after the advertising team behind them was sacked.

Speaking at the New York International Auto Show, Farley said: "All of us at Ford and JWT were as shocked as you were. We are extremely sorry about the incident. It is not acceptable."

A WPP apology on Wednesday said that posters were never intended for publication, adding: "We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency at JWT. These posters were created by individuals within the agency and did not go through the normal review and oversight process."

However, it later emerged that JWT India entered the ads - which feature women bound and gagged in the trunk of a Ford Figo hatchback - in the Indian Goafest Abby ad awards before attempting to withdraw them during the judging process when backlash began. A new law has just been passed on violence against women in India following the gang rape and murder of 23-year-old Indian student Jyoti Singh.

"Please know that we have taken swift actions," Farley added. "We have updated, of course, all of our review processes."

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.