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Ford Apologizes for Ads Showing Women in Bondage

Friday, 22 Mar 2013 | 11:22 PM ET
Ford Figo ad depicting Paris Hilton and the Kardashians
Source: Ads of the World
Ford Figo ad depicting Paris Hilton and the Kardashians
Silvio Berlusconi depicted in a Ford Figo ad.
Source: Ads of the World
Silvio Berlusconi depicted in a Ford Figo ad.

Ford and its Indian advertising agency have apologized for ads showing women in bondage and admitted that they should never have been created at all.

One of the ads for the Ford Figo subcompact car show caricatures of three scantily clad women gagged, bound, and crammed into the back of the Figo while Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi looks back from the front seat, smiling and giving the "peace sign." The tag line at the bottom of the ad says, "Leave Your Worries Behind."

Another ad with the same tag line shows a caricature of Paris Hilton winking while the Kardashian sisters are gagged and bound in the back of the Figo.

Ford's advertising agency WPP admitted the ads should never have been created.

"We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within WPP Group," it said. "These posters were never intended for paid publication and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the internet. This was the result of individuals acting without proper oversight and appropriate actions have been taken within the agency where they work to deal with the situation."

Ford also issued a statement to CNBC saying the ads were inappropriate.

"We deeply regret this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened," the statement read. "The posters are contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford and our agency partners. Together with our partners, we are reviewing approval and oversight processes to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

It's unclear how much damage, if any, the leaked ads will cost Ford in India. The company has been posting healthy sales gains in India, thanks in large part to the Figo.

As distasteful as the bondage ads are, the timing of them being leaked could not be worse for Ford of India. On Thursday, the Indian Parliament passed anew anti-rape law, after months of public outcry about the need to protect women from sexual violence.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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