Af­ter O&M Apol­ogy, Pandey Does a U-turn

Says no ac­tion is needed & the Bounce Back theme ads de­pict­ing Malala, Jobs and Ma­hatma Gandhi for mat­tress co are gen­uine

The Economic Times - - Business Of Brands -


There’s a new twist in the tale of the new­est scam-ad scan­dal in In­dia. Last week, a se­ries of ads for Kurl-On mat­tresses cre­ated by Ogilvy & Mather were the sub­ject of a con­tro­versy. One of the ads, which fea­tured Pak­istani teenager Malala Yousafzai and de­picted her “bounc­ing back” af­ter be­ing shot in the head, was roundly crit­i­cised as be­ing in bad taste by me­dia across the globe.

O&M apol­o­gised to Yousafzai and her fam­ily, and is­sued a state­ment that said: “We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing how our stan­dards were com­pro­mised in this case and will take what­ever cor­rec­tive ac­tion is nec­es­sary. In ad­di­tion, we have launched a thor­ough re­view of our ap­proval and over­sight pro­cesses across our global net­work to help en­sure that our stan­dards are never com­pro­mised again.” The ads – which had not

Pak­istan' ac­tivist, tum­bles in the air af­ter be­ing shot on the head. She lands on a Kurl-On mat­tress and bounces back to ac­cept the No­bel peace prize Steve Jobs be­comes the great Amer­i­can en­tre­pre­neur, mar­keter, and in­ven­tor af­ter be­ing booted out of the house Gandhi is thrown out of the train and bounces back to be­come Fa­ther of the Na­tion been re­leased by the client in any me­dia — were also with­drawn from the Ky­oo­rius Ad­ver­tis­ing & De­sign awards show. This week, O&M In­dia is tak­ing a dif­fer­ent stance. Ac­cord­ing to Piyush Pandey, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man O&M, the Bounce Back cam­paign is a le­git­i­mate one, cre­ated as part of a pitch. “This is a client which has been in con­ver­sa­tion with us for a long time. This work was pre­sented to them and they said re­lease it and we will see how it goes. We are not wrong in this. This is not a scam,” Pandey said. While he claims he has not seen the ads, he adds, “Ev­ery­one else start­ing from my na­tional cre­ative di­rec­tors to the re­gional cre­ative di­rec­tors saw it in the mak­ing and ev­ery­one loved it.” O&M made a proac­tive pitch and pre­sented the three Bounce Back ads il­lus­trated with vi­su­als of Malala Yousafzai, Steve Jobs and Ma­hatma Gandhi to Kur­lOn, and the com­pany agreed to re­lease the ads over­seas. The com­pany ex­ports to sev­eral in­ter­na­tional mar­kets in­clud­ing the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, the UK, Europe, and some African coun­tries. Af­ter the con­tro­versy caused by the Malala ad, how­ever, Kurl-On has de­cided against re­leas­ing them, says Pandey. A highly placed source in O&M said, “We felt that the ads are bril­liant and so we re­leased it on Ads of the World to en­ter the Ky­oo­rius awards. How­ever, soon af­ter we re­alised that it may get disqual­i­fied as it was not re­leased any­where else and whole thing may cat­a­pult into a big­ger con­tro­versy. And so we with­drew it even be­fore it could be judged.” Pandey, how­ever, says, “There is no cor­rec­tive mea­sure to be taken be­cause noth­ing wrong has been has done. I know Ogilvy’s stan­dards, I fol­low the stan­dards, I will never let the stan­dards down, I will never let my clients down.” Kurl-On, which is a part of the .` 2,000 crore Ma­ni­pal Group of Com­pa­nies, is not part of O&M’s client ros­ter — its ad agency is McCann World­Group, which won the ac­count af­ter a mul­ti­a­gency pitch. In 2013, Kurl-On also ap­pointed Dentsu Me­dia as its agency of record.

When con­tacted, Pra­soon Joshi, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, McCann World­Group de­clined to com­ment. De­spite sev­eral calls and mes­sages to Sudhakar Pai, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Kurl-On, did not re­spond to ET.

Just over a year ago, JWT In­dia was in­volved in a sim­i­lar con­tro­versy — a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sial, sex­ist un­re­leased ads for its client Ford Figo saw the agency re­ceive un­prece­dented flak across the world. JWT fired three staffers, in­clud­ing then cre­ative head Bobby Pawar. And in 2007, a se­ries of ads for Hanes that used of­fen­sive and racist slurs led the ap­parel firm to sack the agency that cre­ated them, McCann Erick­son.

Malala Yousafzai,

Ap­ple founder


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