Shock and Awe(ful) – Ford’s Indian Bondage Problem
In case you’ve missed all the hubbub the past few days over the leaked Ford Figo ad from JWT India ad agency in Delhi, here’s the main image that has gotten everyone in an uproar and had Ford and JWT’s PR teams working double time on damage control. Although the ad was never used, the political work is already done.
The stated mission of JWT India, which reads as follows, is doubly ironic given this recent event:
“JWT India was established in 1929 in Mumbai. The New Delhi office was born in 1944. Since then it has been an acknowledged leader of the Indian advertising scene. It has continuously helped break new ground in advertising practices and methods…Our guiding creative principle is the creation of effective and distinctive advertising. We believe that, to be effective, advertising must act as a planned stimulus to evoke a desired predetermined response. Our unflinching adherence to these basic principles has helped us, just the Delhi office to become the fourth largest agency in the world.”
Maybe someone should remind the folks at JWT that “effective and distinctive advertising” that “act as a planned stimulus to evoke a desired predetermined response” might not be the best approach to advertising when you have artists like this running their show. Just a thought. And given the recent unrest in Delhi over attacks on women, the fact that this add came out of Delhi is not remotely surprising. Sad, but not a surprise.
As a side not, I think it’s worth point out, however, that some of the offense over the imagery undoubtedly originated from the prudish and parochial response to any public depictions of bondage, something that we need to be mindful to separate from the sexist undertone of this cartoon. There’s no reason that bondage and sexism must go together, as some folks in the BDSM community try to remind us. But, like everywhere else, BDSM is not immune to these issues either. So like most politics, it’s always complicated and messy.
In the case of the Ford ad, it’s unlikely the artists were trying to get in touch with their “inner BDSM” child, as none of the overtly sexualized women in the cartoon are having fun. Just in case it wasn’t clear, the artists were kind enough to add tear drop falling down one of the women’s cheek.
Until next time…it can’t hurt to think before you draw.