Kardashians Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, may not be the greatest people in the world, but Ford Motors thinks they should be gagged and bound in a trunk. Mad Men, indeed.
JWT India, an ad agency under the WWP Group, made these ads targeting the Indian market for the Ford Figaro. It’s a cartoon of Paris Hilton winking at us in the front seat, with the Kardashian sisters tied up in the trunk, duct tape across their mouths, while Khloe gets her own special ball gag.
The tagline is “Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra large boot.”
If you look at it one way, you see something disturbing. Everything is here; let’s all take our places at the table! The stereotypical woman can’t be friends trope, you sit there. The backstabbing jealous woman trope, why don’t you sit over there. The classic women hate successful women trope can take a seat next to the other classic women can’t be friends with women trope. And at the head of the table sits violence against women. Welcome everyone!
If you look at it another way, you see it as a caricature on celebrity; of the merciless reality television and the backstabbing Hollywood celebrity feuds.
Note that I am only offering two different ways of seeing it. That’s it. Just theorizing the two strongest takeaways someone could get from this ad. I’m sure there are more.
You’re not going to find me at a Kim Kardashian concert…or play…or starring movie or…whatever it is that she does, I won’t be there. But I feel very uneasy seeing a crude drawing of her tied up and gagged in a
“boot” (oh, I’m sorry: “extra large” boot.) And why is she the only one in her underwear?
The ad got pulled.
And — lucky us — there’s another ad in this series. This one stars former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi flashing a peace sign in the front seat while distressed strippers are tied and ball gagged in the boot. This is the least subtle reference one could make to Berlusconi’s affairs and love of strippers. Same tagline: “Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra large boot.” Apparently, we were never supposed to even see this ad. Oops!
Which ad is worse? Is it a tie?
You know what the worst thing about these ads is? They’re just bad ads. They fail at being clever or timely. (Paris Hilton is so 6 years ago, and in this reality TV show world, that’s a lot.) They give no positive message to connect the potential consumer with. Their tagline is unreadable. It’s an eerie premise. Don Draper would take one look at it and say, “Who the hell is responsible for this?”…
…and fire them immediately with no real remorse.
Here’s one particular reason why I don’t like these ads. In 1988, a young woman named Tara Calico went on a bike ride and never came home. A Polaroid photo was found in a parking lot of both a young boy and (who is most likely) Tara, bound and gagged. If you’d like to see it, you can click here. There’s no gore at all, but it’s still terrifying and sad. You may click on that and think, “Wow, this is really not what I expected to see on this site. This is very dark. What is wrong with you?” That’s exactly why I’m posting it. I understand that these ads are cartoons, and are supposed to be jokes, but when I saw these ads, that photo is the first thing that flashed into my mind. Both show images of violence against women. One is to sell a car. The other is the last known photo of a missing girl.
I understand why people would be upset by these ads.