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The Boston Globe

Business

Ford apologizes for ads in India

MUMBAI — The Indian unit of Ford Motor Co. apologized for advertisements decried as demeaning to women, including one depicting Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, with a trio of bound women in a car trunk.

Ford India said it is investigating whether anyone at the automaker ever saw the print ads, which were never used commercially but appeared on a website showcasing creative advertising. The ads caused an uproar — just after India passed a law on violence against women, after a fatal gang rape of a student on a bus prompted mass protests.

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One ad showed three women bound and gagged in the trunk of an Indian-made compact, the Ford Figo, with Berlusconi smiling from the driver’s seat and the slogan ‘‘Leave your worries behind with the Figo’s extra-large boot.’’

Similar ads featured Paris Hilton apparently kidnapping the Kardashian sisters — all three sisters tied up and one in a bikini — and Formula One driver Michael Schumacher abducting his male racing competition.

Ford called the images ‘‘contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford.’’

The ads were created at JWT India. Its parent, the British advertising and public relations giant WPP Group, also­ condemned the ads.

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