Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer and managing partner at JWT India, axed as the Ford India sexually offensive ad controversy deepens

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UPDATED STORY: The PR crisis from Ford's India ad controversy, continues with an official apology from the automaker, and the immediate dismissal of the individuals behind the sexually offensive ad from JWT Delhi. The scandal has seen axings from the very top with Bobby Pawar, Chief Creative Officer & Managing Partner at JWT India (pictured at the recent Campaign Brief Asia party at AdFest in Thailand), axed from the agency late yesterday after it was discovered the campaign had been entered into India's biggest awards show, GoaFest. Interestingly, all entries to GoaFest have to be reviewed and approved by senior creative management of the agency and by the client. The controversy may continue as speculation within the Indian industry is that someone from Ford's marketing department may have signed off on these GoaFest entries, as per the regulations for all entries to the Indian Festival.

Bobby Pawar.jpgJWT, India's largest agency network, had earlier in the evening issued an updated statement saying: "We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency at JWT. These were never intended for paid publication, were never requested by our Ford client and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the internet. These posters were created by individuals within the agency and did not go through the normal review and oversight process. After a thorough internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT. These were necessary steps owing to the direct accountability of the concerned individuals as we work to ensure that both the right oversight and processes are strictly enforced so that this never happens again."

Also let go yesterday was the Vijay Simha Vellanki, the creative director of Blue Hive, a JWT division that manages the Ford business.

According to reports in India JWT India has withdrawn all Ford ads entered into GoaFest

Ford spokesperson Chris Preuss had also issued a statement: "The investigation over what happened is ongoing. Obviously, appropriate actions will be taken, including the dismissal of individuals who were found to be culpable.There's a deep partnership between WPP and Ford. Obviously, the issue was located in one place. It obviously happened with individuals who were acting outside of any normal oversight we have. This is a very, very serious matter and it's being handled as such. Right now, the actions are being dealt with at our local agency. Again, everybody is extremely unhappy and regretting this has happened."

Bobby Pawar joined JWT India in November 2011 from the DDB Mudra Group, replacing Agnello Dias, who had resigned to form independent agency, Taproot India.

His career in the industry spans the globe: at DDB Mudra Pawar was chief creative officer. He has worked for Ogilvy Mumbai, Tara Sinha Associates and Rediffusion in India, and Ogilvy & Mather New York and BBDO Chicago. He returned to India, and joined Mudra, in 2007 and has worked with many tier-one brands, including Volkswagen, Emirates, Philips, Lifesavers and AT&T.

The controversy which started several days ago when a series of offensive ads created by JWT Delhi showing female celebrities bound and gagged in the trunk of Ford Figo hatchback were uploaded tointernational ad websites.

The ads were not approved by Ford but rather created by staffers at JWT India, which handles advertising for Ford in the country. The posters depicted reality TV star Paris Hilton with what appears to be Kim Kardashian and her two sisters tied up in the trunk of her car. The tagline: "Leave your worries behind with Figo's extra large boot." 

Another showed Silvio Berlusconi, former Prime Minister of Italy, who was embroiled in a sex scandal of his own. In it, he's flashing a victory sign while three half-dressed women struggle against their bonds.

14 Comments

Hey said:

Nice illos. Who did them?

BeentoMumbai said:

Has anyone here actually been to India?

I have.

Have you seen the ads?

If it wasn't for the award festivals desperately sucking every Asian dollar than can get, the entries from most of India should be seen for what they are, the advertising equivalent of the Nigerian 419 scam letter.

No wonder awards have lost all currency.

D&AD, maybe One Show.

The rest can fuck off.

Will Think for Salary said:

Outrage!!!
Job done.

wtf? said:

The worst bit is...

The ads are absolute fucking rubbish. These guys are smoking way too much of the bad shit...

Abada said:

Don't they need to provide a signed letter from the client to enter?

Or is JWT scared to lose the account if they produce that letter?

THEY'RE NOT AWARD-WINNING ADS ANYWAY said:


'Shame to lose your job over such utter shite.

hmmm said:

Two things stand out for me about this story. I'm amazed that an agency thinks they can upload ads onto ads of the world and enter them in award shows if they know that the client hasn't seen/approved/signed them off. Secondly, that ad creatives are still trying to make their name with scam print ads. It shows how completely out of touch some agencies/countries are with what is going on in our industry. That ignorance alone shows that the parties who got canned don't deserve their jobs.

Cynical said:

What were they thinking? No really... I would love to know CB...

Mike said:

the issue here for me is not that they created these mock ups (which are juvenile) in the first place but that they were entered and accepted into a major awards show. if this shot doesn't scream scam, what does. Shame on GoaFest and shame on JWT India.

Been to india said:

Opium isn't all it's cracked up to be. All it does is put you to sleep.

Don’t get caught said:

That WPP pretends to be shocked about this is a fucking joke.

It is what they are increasingly demanding from ECDs. Or else. Their current crop of worldwide ECDs all got their massively impressive award tallies by scamming, and their salaries and bonuses are tied to award tallies so they are putting acid on their underlings to do the same.

The only problem here is that the scam was badly executed and so offensive they got caught. WPP’s only problem is the getting caught bit. And they are not the only network doing it.

Let’s be honest, scamming is now the norm in the advertising award world.

Allen said:

That's OK. They'll just outsource it to....oh, wait.

Iamamoralpolice said:

I read in http://www.newslaundry.com/2013/03/whos-scamming-whom/ that theere were 3 letters which had no specific titles. JWT is said have (mis)used this to enter these ads into the contest. Poor employee of Ford! Wonder what would happen to her/him, for the agency blatantly claims the ads never went through normal review process. scape goat.....!!

Your award will be pipped by scam. said:

Can they just get rid of all the non-offensive scam ads next. That would be something.

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