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Sexist Ford Ads Leaked
By: Brian Perry
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This just in: the Internet can take images and share them across the world. Maybe the ad creative at JWT in India should remember that next time they make a mock up or “scam ads” of woman celebrities bound and gagged in the back of a Ford. This situation now has JWT and Ford doing damage control. One has to ask, what was the creative team at JWT India thinking about when letting these ads go viral? Cultural differences play a big part in this situation. What we in the United States think is creative, other countries may not, and vice versa.

In the advertising industry all it takes is a brief, fleeting moment of being brain dead to damage a client and your business. How the scam ad scandal will damage JWT or Ford is yet to be seen. However, in today’s society, everything posted on the Internet is subject to knee-jerk reactions from customers and media. Looking at Ford's Facebook page, one can see people saying things like "shocking" or "awful" to describe the scam ads. There are also several posts asking for Ford to look for a new agency.

The problem is that even though Ford is not at fault here, the media has already condemned them for the ads. For example, here is the headline from Yahoo News today: “Ford Apologizes Over Sexist Ads Using Cartoons of Bound-and-Gagged Women.” As you can see, there is no mention in the headline that the ad was not produced for a Ford creative. However, to gain readers, Yahoo went with the big fish of the crisis to help promote their website. Other news organizations have jumped on this as well: Fox News, NPR, Time, and the list goes on. And yes, I am fully aware that I did the same thing in this blog's headline, so I am just as guilty.

In the court of public opinion where facts don’t always make it to the surface, Ford has to put its public relations crisis team into action. They have already come out against the ads, saying, “We deeply regret this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened. The posters are contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford and our agency partners.”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next week. Will this crisis just blow over or will this turn into a public scandal that will cost Ford sales? What will Ford's crisis team put in play to help the auto giant navigate out of this situation?  It will also be interesting to see what happens to JWT. Will there be any fallout from this that will damage their reputation? I guess the biggest takeaway from this crisis is to think about what you are doing before hitting send. You never know who in the world will be looking at your creative.


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About the Author
Brian Perry is an accomplished communications professional with expertise in all aspects of successful marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions, and social media. Brian's outside interests consist of Hockey, Lacrosse, Insanity (basically any type of sport), books, and family time. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter
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