Ford Apologizes for Tying Women Up in Indian Ads

JWT work didn't run but provokes outcry anyway

If you've been under a rock, violence against women in India has been all over the news since last December following the horrific gang rape of a young woman who had the audacity to take a bus. She died from her injuries, sparking protests across India. So now when I tell you Ford has had to apologize for ads created by JWT India that depict women tied up in the back of a Ford Figo, you won't be quite so surprised. The ads never ran, but were picked up when the Internet, always on the lookout for something to be offended about, found them on Ads of the World. In one illustration, Paris Hilton has tied up the Kardashians and stuck them in her boot. In another, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has roped himself three scantily clad women. The tagline: "Leave your worries behind with Figo's extra-large boot." For those who say some people are just too sensitive to hilarious cartoon violence against women, let me explain a few things: 1) It's not less violent because it's a cartoon. 2) It's not less violent if the violence is perpetrated by another woman. 3) It's about time people got upset over casual violence toward women, which is all over the place. The sad thing is that it has to be triggered by extreme events for people to notice what's been there all along. 4) Yes, there are ads that show violence against men (though they're a lot fewer). No, people are not saying violence against men is acceptable in ads just because they're saying violence against women is unacceptable. 5) Yes, it's obviously intended as a joke. But jokes exist in context, and right now, it's really, really, superbly unfunny. It's just too bad for Ford that the brand will suffer for ads it didn't even approve. It's a good reminder that the Internet doesn't know the difference.

@rebeccacullers Rebecca Cullers is a contributor to Adweek.