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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Two get the boot for tasteless scam ads

This story first appeared in DNA Money edition on Thursday, Mar 28, 2013.

The controversy over three scam advertisements created by JWT India, part of global advertising major WPP, drew blood on Wednesday. Bobby Pawar (in pic), chief creative officer and managing partner, JWT India, and Simha Vellanki, creative director at Blue Hive, a WPP unit managing the Ford Motors business, have reportedly been given the marching orders.

“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 individuals concerned as we work to ensure that both the right oversight and processes are strictly enforced so that this never happens again,” JWT India said in a media statement without specifying the sacking of the two officials.

Scam ads are typically created by advertising professionals to compete and win creative awards at various events globally. While the Ford Figo campaign was also meant to serve that purpose, the distasteful portrayal of women, coming at a time when India is in the process of putting in place a law to prevent violence against women, has put both the creative agency and the client (Ford Motors) in damage control mode.

Ashish Bhasin, chairman, India and CEO, southeast Asia and south Asia, Aegis Media, said the controversy is a wake-up call for both clients and creative agencies.

Just Without Taste scam ads draw blood.

Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India, agrees, as he points out that it is time for a “greater consciousness”. “It’s time to celebrate game-changing ideas so that we realise that you don’t need to do scam ads to become famous or to win recognition.... We don’t want scams to become the face of our industry.”

Expressing regret, JWT India said, “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.”

Follow Ashish K Tiwari on twitter @ashishktiwari

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