Ford forced to pull Full Monty ad

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The Independent Online
TWO OF the world's largest car makers yesterday had to withdraw advertisements following complaints that they were insulting and racist.

Ford had produced a television commercial for its Escort based on the film The Full Monty, featuring a group of male strippers.

But the advertisement, shown in the North-east, received complaints that it only used white men, whereas the film included a black stripper.

Toyota also climbed down after it ran an advertisement in Australia claiming the Queen was a "British export that's had its day". Devised by Saatchi and Saatchi for a Lexus 4WD car, it appeared the day after the republican convention ended last month, but still faces criticism from royalists.

It featured the grille of a Range Rover below the words: "Don't worry, Your Majesty, you're not the only British export that's had its day."

Philip Benwell, chairman of the Australian Monarchist League, said: "It is a grave insult." In a letter to the Japanese ambassador, he wrote: "How dare your companies disparage the Sovereign of Australia."

Brian Sheehan, chief executive of Saatchi and Saatchi, initially defended the advertisement, saying it was intended to be controversial and had received few complaints, but yesterday designers at the firm said it had been withdrawn.

A Toyota spokesman said it was a one-off. "It was developed in Australia and intended for use only in that country. Toyota (GB) Ltd do not agree with the style or content and would never have allowed such an advert to run in this country. We are very pleased it is no longer being used."

In similar vein, Ford apologised for its Full Monty advertisement and said the company adhered to a strict equal-opportunities policy. However, two years ago it was at the centre of a similar controversy after it was revealed that white faces had been superimposed over black faces in a photograph used for an advertising campaign.

In a statement yesterday Ford said: "The advertisement was not intended to be an exact reproduction of the film and a group of both black and white actors were auditioned and the four most suitable men were chosen. All four happened to be white."

It said it was giving the advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, an "extra- special push" in its racial-awareness training schemes, based on Ford's own ethnic-diversity programme.

Bill Morris, secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "It would seem neither agency nor client have yet learned society must be reflected in all its diversity ...

"If a black actor was good enough to make The Full Monty a runaway success, black people are good enough to help sell the Ford cars which they make."