The Ford Motor Company has issued a “my bad” for an extraordinarily distasteful advertisement that was “leaked” online last week. The ad featured a cartoon drawing of former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi smiling in the driver’s seat of a Ford Figo (a hatchback made in India). Three bound and gagged, scantily clad women are in the back of the car. Berlusconi made headlines for his wild sex parties and alleged encounters with under-aged prostitutes.
This advertisement does not appear to be social commentary in the vein of say The Boondocks. Rather than pointing out the ridiculousness of Berlusconi’s behavior, this advertisement is saying “Hahaha! The Ford Figo has so much room Berlusconi has room to put THREE hoes in the back of it!” That’s how that advertisement reads to me.
Women are constantly objectified in advertisements and editorials and this takes it one step further by making a mockery of rape culture. It is completely unacceptable.
What is particularly disturbing is that this is a fairly detailed drawing. Someone put in some real time and energy to do this. What does that say about the climate of the advertising firm that created this? Someone thought this was actually funny and I’m sure that same person shared this piece of art with co-workers who he/she (probably he) thought would find it funny. No to all of that.
As to the ad being “leaked,” I wonder if someone at the ad agency saw the drawing, found it repulsive and made sure to “leak” it to show the kind of crap that goes on in that office.
WPP, the advertising firm responsible for the mock-up has issued an apology. “We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within WPP Group. These were never intended for paid publication and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the internet,” said the agency in a statement.
Ford issued a similar apology. Have you ever been blown away by the sexism or misogyny in advertisements? Who are the repeat offenders?
Demetria Irwin is a New York City-based freelance writer/editor. Follow her on Twitter, @Love_Is_Dope.