O&M’s Kurl-On Ad Draws Flak

A set of three ads on an on­line ad fo­rum un­der ‘Bounce Back’ theme cre­ates a stir In­diGo’s Print Ad Sur­prises In­dus­try

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

PRITHA MI­TRA DAS­GUPTA

Aseries of ad­ver­tise­ments Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) cre­ated for mat­tress brand Kurl-On has drawn flak over its of­fen­sive con­tent, bring­ing scam ads back in fo­cus just a year af­ter a sim­i­lar con­tro­versy made Bobby Pawar quit JWT as the agency’s man­ag­ing part­ner and chief cre­ative of­fi­cer. O&M re­leased a set of three il­lus­trated ads ti­tled 'Bounce Back' on on­line ad fo­rum Ads of the World. One of them shows Pak­istani stu­dent ac­tivist Malala Yousafzai tum­bles in the air af­ter be­ing shot on the head, lands on a Kurl-On mat­tress and bounces back to ac­cept the No­bel peace prize. It has at­tracted wide­spread con­tempt for us­ing a re­cent and hor­ren­dous tragedy to sell a prod­uct. When con­tacted an O&M spokesman said, “We deeply re­gret this in­ci­dent and want to per­son­ally apol­o­gise to Malala Yousafzai and her fam­ily. We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing how our stan­dards were com­pro­mised in this case and will take what­ever cor­rec­tive ac­tion is neces- sary.” A highly placed source in the agency said the ads were not re­leased on any other medium. The agency had en­tered the ‘Bounce Back’ se­ries for the Ky­oo­rius Ad­ver­tis­ing and Dig­i­tal awards, but with­drew it on May 14 on the sec­ond day of the jury ses­sion, one of the judges on the panel said. Mails writ­ten to Kurl- On MD T Sudhakar Pai, CEO San­tonu Choud­hury and CMO Bala Ra­jan on whether the se­ries was a part of the brief given by the com­pany or proac­tive work done by the agency did not elicit a re­sponse as of press time. The other two ads fea­ture Ma­hatma Gandhi and Ap­ple founder Steve Jobs. One shows Jobs bounc­ing back to be­come a great Amer­i­can en­tre­pre­neur af­ter be­ing booted out of the house, while the other shows lawyer Gandhi be­ing thrown out of the train and bounc­ing back to be­come the fa­ther of the na­tion. Sev­eral in­dus­try heads ET spoke to feel that some­one se­nior from the agency should take the re­spon­si­bil­ity for cre­at­ing this se­ries.

A print ad by low-cost car­rier In­diGo on Thurs­day sur­prised many, as it didn’t have any ap­par­ent re­la­tion with its prod­uct, op­er­a­tions, or brand, re­ports Our Bureau. The ad was in the form of a di­dac­tic poem. Its verses, im­ply­ing that noth­ing will hold back the air­line from at­tain­ing great­ness, had in­dus­try watch­ers won­der­ing whether this was a hint at some­thing big­ger — the ad­vent of an in­vestor or pre­lude to an IPO. While a com­pany spokesper­son said it was “just a brand­ing cam­paign”, its ad agency clar­i­fied that the air­line’s mes­sage linked to Fri­day’s poll re­sults. “No mat­ter which govern­ment comes to power, In­diGo will con­tinue to give the most com­pe­tent ser­vices,” said V Sunil, ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tor at Wieden Kennedy.

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