(AP/Mohammad Hannon)

Agency apologizes for offensive ad depicting Malala Yousafzai getting shot by Taliban

The ad posits that the human rights icon was "Bouncing Back" from the attack thanks to a mattress

Prachi Gupta
May 15, 2014 11:28PM (UTC)

Ogilvy & Mather has apologized to international human rights icon Malala Yousafzai and her family for an insensitive, graphic ad which depicts the Taliban's attempt to assasinate the teenager. In the ad, Yousafzai is seen as "Bouncing Back" from gunshot to the head thanks to a Kurl-On Mattresses.


Yousafzai, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was recently honored as one of Time's 100 Most Influential People, gained international attention for taking a stand against the Taliban and fighting for women's rights, even after being shot and wounded by the extremist group.

In a statement released to Business Insider, a spokesperson from Ogilvy & Mather North America said, "We deeply regret this incident and want to apologize to Malala Yousafzai and her family. 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 ad, created by the firm's India office, was not published commercially, but prompted outcry when it appeared on the Internet. Ogilvy & Mather VP Ramanan Subramani said that the firm is reconsidering the entire series of ads, which include prominent figures like Gandhi and Steve Jobs similarly "bouncing back."


"Since it's raising some eyebrows, we wanted to pull it back and maybe settle the commotion. Our intention was purely to see the positive side of Bouncing Back and definitely not the negative," he wrote. So far, only the Steve Jobs ad has run in a local paper, reports the Daily Mail.

The misstep is pretty big oversight, though, laying somewhere between Kenneth Cole-level trolling and the graphic Ford Motor India ads that depicted women bound and gagged in the back of a trunk.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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