Silvio Berlusconi is no stranger to controversy. Throughout his career as Italy’s prime minister, he was constantly under attack by one party or another, and his antics made him the subject of numerous investigations and probes. It seems that Berlusconi is still unable to avoid the spotlight, and now it’s in India, and it’s because of American car manufacturer Ford (NYSE:F).
Ford India recently issued a series of ads that have drawn enormous criticisms in several different countries, and the Ford Motor Co. is apologizing as a result. The ads depict the former prime minister — infamously known for his love of younger women and the sexually charged soirées at his luxury lakeside villas — in a new Ford model, with three bound and gagged women packed in the truck. It should be noted that the ads were illustrations, not actual photos, although the point of the ad makes the chosen medium rather irrelevant. Although the ads were never released commercially, they were posted on a website that showcases creative advertising.
Not surprisingly, the ads were met with a great uproar, and have caused Ford India to investigate whether the automaker ever actually saw the ads in the first place, prior to publication. Worse yet, the ads fall on the heel of new regulations over the treatment of women in India, who following a brutally violent gang-rape incident on a bus (and the resulting death of the victim), have rallied to bring worldwide attention to the fear-ridden environment that women live in the country.