#Scamadgate: After Bobby Pawar, will Ford marketing head also go? [Updated, Mar 28]

27 Mar,2013

By Pradyuman Maheshwari


Call it Holi Horror. The first casualty in the JWT-Ford mock-up of advertising is Bobby Pawar, Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner of JWT’s office in India. Also sacked is Vijay Simha, VP and Senior Creative Director of Blue Hive or WPP-Global Team Ford that works as part of JWT India.


But that’s a smaller thing, when you hear the really horrible piece of news: thatthe ads in question were also entered for the Creative Abby. In fact the information we have received is that they were also shortlisted for a metal. Could well have been winning a Grand Prix. (Update on March 28: We now learn that while the three ‘posters’ were indeed entered for the Creative Abby in the outdoor category, they were not shortlisted. The three were part of the 13 Ford entries that were entered by JWT. All 13 were subsequently withdrawn from the Creative Abby)


The award was withdrawn after the controversy erupted and the India office of JWT put out a communiqué on Tuesday evening that a probe was conducted and those accountable were dispensed with.


The industry grapevine had it that the sack was delivered to Pawar, who was brought into JWT was desperate for a creative leader. However, the JWT spokesperson refuse to divulge to MxMIndia the number of people who’ve exited or their names. Sad that the best brains in marketing communications screw it up when it comes to sending a simple message: Yes, we effed it up, but all is well.


There was shock in the international community when this writer tweeted about it around a little before sunrise on Wednesday. One senior professional wrote back to us with this: “I didn’t realize they’d entered the ads for awards, which is a very serious infraction.


Infraction it is, but the question that everyone is asking is that how could the ad be entered at the Creative Abby without the express approval from the marketing team at Ford? “The investigation over what happened is ongoing,” Ford spokesperson Chris Preuss told Advertising Age. “Obviously, appropriate actions will be taken up to and including the dismissal of individuals who were found to be culpable,” Ad Age quotes Mr Preuss (link: http://adage.com/article/global-news/jwt-india- sacks-staffers-responsible-offensive-ford-ad/240555/).


So, will we see heads roll at Ford India? We think they should if indeed someone out there issued approvals. MxMIndia believes it’s wrong to only nail Messrs Pawar and Simha, though they may well be responsible for what happened. It’s time for the marketing head at Ford to step down. Corroborating the sentiment that’s being discussed much in adland, a senior member of the A&M fraternity told us: “Why penalize only the agency… didn’t the client sign the Abby form?”


For the record, at Ford India, Vinay Piparsania is Executive Director of Marketing, Sales and Service and Sriram Padmanabhan is Vice President, Marketing. When asked for a response on how Ford had endorsed the Abby application and a few other questions, Deeptie Sethi, Head of Communications at Ford India, wrote to us: “We have a process to investigate internal matters, and as such, we are conducting an investigation to determine how this happened. Once the investigation is complete we will take the appropriate action, if needed.”

There are decidedly more questions than answers. There’s got to be a way to put a check on scam ads. The emphasis that marketers and agencies put on winning awards has to come down.


Read a detailed analysis tomorrow


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