Advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather has issued an apology to 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai and her family after it used a cartoon version of Yousafzai’s 2012 shooting in an ad for the Indian company, Kurl-On Mattresses.
Yousafzai is a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated teenager known worldwide for her activism in support of female education rights in her native Pakistan and abroad. She was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban — who oppose education for girls — in 2012 when the attacker boarded a bus she was riding.
The ad, below, was created by Ogilvy & Mather’s India office and depicts Yousafzai’s ultimate recovery from the shooting as being aided by her “bouncing back” off a Kurl-On Mattress.
“The recent Kurl-On Mattress ads from our India office are contrary to the beliefs and professional standards of Ogilvy & Mather and our clients,” a spokesperson from Ogilvy & Mather North America said in a statement to Business Insider. “We deeply regret this incident and want to 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 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 spokesperson declined to answer questions beyond issuing the statement.
The ad first surfaced on the internet after it was published by the website Ads of the World alongside two other ads that showed how Steve Jobs and Gandhi had bounced back using a Kurl-On mattress.
It was then republished by Fast Company with the headline “THE LEAST CREATIVE THING OF THE DAY: THIS AD USES MALALA YOUSAFZAI TO SELL MATTRESSES.”
Ogilvy & Mather VP Ramanan Subramani confirmed in an email that the ad was real, but said the company had yet to publish it commercially before it surfaced online.
He also asked BI to remove it from a post we wrote Tuesday about the ad. We declined.
“We are deliberating on the entire series of ads,” Subramani wrote Wednesday. “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.”
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