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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pawar didn’t fail, but JWT India and Ford India tripped.

Scam, sham, shame… Goafest 2013 comes to an end touching a new nadir. The amount of scam work made an entry into this award carnival was not only shocking but also sickening in contrast to the essence of advertising, which should provide with high-degree of accountability – from strategy to creative to media to result.  

What even more bizarre and baffling was, if scams happen to be so vital to showcase one’s creative talent then on what basis Bobby Pawar and the team needed to face the ignominy and insult at JWT India because they had created some scam ads / posters for Ford Figo – the car with an ‘extra-large boot’?

In case the scam was not the issue but the creative was, then fair enough, let’s postmortem the creative in order to understand whether the creative was so evil at all – as it made out to be.  

The functional benefit offered by Ford Figo is ‘extra large boot’.

Why you need a car with an ‘extra large boot’?

So you ‘do NOT need to worry’ about how to accommodate your luggage and belongings in the car while travelling.

Hence, ‘leave your worries behind… with Figo’s extra-large boot’ was just a perfect offer to put the point across and entice the TG.  

The campaign was built with three ads / posters, exploiting the visual elements as gags. As shown below in the following pictures –

The visuals found objectionable and not in good taste rather SEXIST because women were shown in their voluptuous avatar and tied and gagged.   


Now what does the word SEXIST mean?

“Discriminatory on the basis of sex (usually said of men's attitude toward women).”  

So, does that mean… ‘Paris Hilton is a man’ who was portrayed in one of the ads / posters showing discriminatory attitude to Kim Kardashian and her sisters or ‘Sebastian Vettel and other two F1 drivers are women’ who fell preys to Michael Schumacher’s sexism, as shown in another ad / poster?

Any answer to that?

Not really, right?

On the other hand, women were definitely presented in an obnoxious and filthy way in the ad / poster that showed Silvio Berlusconi expressing his joy over having had the fairer sex at his mercy; that was sexist indeed.

So in a three-ad / poster campaign, only one ad / poster was objectionable and vulgar for sure but noway the other two.

However, if the campaign is dissected creatively, for the reason obvious, it has to be said it was an acute case of creative load-shedding where none seems to have taken the load of thinking deep into the communication and therefore worked at a very superficial level to impress some half-brained, half-learned and full-boozed juries at an award show like Goafest.

So, no surprise, the campaign was rejected by the client ‘Ford India’ and in the process it became a scam.

And while a campaign becomes a scam and never gets published officially in a mass media or even a cult media, it can’t jeopardise or endanger any brand’s image even if a huge hue and cry is made over an issue involving the brand.

If some sentiments were offended, tendering an apology in writing – if needed, even in the form of an advertisement or an advertorial or a public notice – from both the client and the agency was more than enough.

In fact, to apologise, a gag on Bobby and the team would’ve been a far better option to minimise the created tension, so as to eliminate it for once and for all with a dollop of self-mockery.

But instead of that, sacking a CCO – Chief Creative Officer – and the creative team responsible for the campaign, as well as terminating the guys on the client side who perhaps singed the entry form of the Abby was ridiculous and a panic stricken reaction that was nothing but a severe PR and Corporate Communication malfunction – could only be equated with a wardrobe malfunction on ramps or on the red carpet.

Aftermath of the event, as Ivan, the editor of ‘Ads of the world’ suggested that in the UK and in the US such a sexist campaign or any communication involving kidnapping didn’t go along well with the people, I would like to ask him see the following pieces of communication one after the other to have a better idea of the reality –

And mind that, as per Toyota and Nissan’s latest reports both the car manufactures are really bullish to expand their market share in the US, and unless they had felt the market was conducive to them they would’ve never proclaimed anything what they did already on their website and to the media.

Also, XEROX is not an Indian brand to be precise. 

Plus, French Connection (UK) – fcuk – is no joke in the UK despite running the controversial, sexiest and sexist campaigns nonstop as per the brand philosophy, precisely to leverage on the brand acronym itself.

Not to mention United Colours of Benetton (UCB) – built and established by controversy only. Even their UNHATE campaign was no exception that they were compelled to remove from media owing to public uproar in no real after the release.

Yet, none was sacked on the client side or on the agency side in any of the cases mentioned above.

No harm in appreciating the fact that no joke, no communication should hurt anyone’s sentiments, but that decorum should also be followed and maintained by the people hailing from the other side of the Atlantic. Even while they crack an innocuous joke or simply indulge in a potentially sexiest and sexist activity – which contradicts the moral and ethical fabric of the Indian culture.

Otherwise, both Jay Leno and Richard Gere should’ve been or should be sacked from their respective professions by now or immediately.

It’s great to respect public sentiments and emotions but never ever at the cost of some innocent people making them scapegoats for nothing. That’s neither professionalism nor a process to ensure any quality for that matter. Rather it’s a poor joke and escapism to wash the hands off in a hurry avoiding the real issue.

Frankly, when an award is won if that becomes an agency’s victory then how come if a crisis takes place that can be only a few individuals’ problem but not the agency’s?

So, if harsh settlement was the only solution in the Ford Figo scam ads case, then Ford India should have sacked JWT as their agency. Or JWT India should have sacked Ford India as the client to protect the employees’ interest.

When neither of that happened, obviously things seemed to be quite dubious and suspicious… why only Bobby was forced to go Pawar-less (read powerless), so was the team, in order to ensure the agency’s face was saved, somehow, in the darkness – while both JWT India and Ford India tripped, very badly, on scams.

The truth must come out sooner than later to stop such a nuisance from happening in future. Because advertising is a serious business, not a circus, and creative people are not jokers.

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