Publicis Hires Bobby Pawar, Creative Behind Scandalous Ford Figo Ad

After JWT India, Adman Finds New Chief Creative Officer Gig

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Bobby Pawar, the Indian creative director who lost his job in March over the Ford Figo ad scandal, is joining Publicis Worldwide as chief creative officer for South Asia as part of a new leadership team for the region.

Bobby Pawar
Bobby Pawar

Mr. Pawar was most recently chief creative officer and managing partner at WPP-owned JWT in India. He found himself at the center of an ad scandal in March when posters showing women bound and gagged in the trunk of a Ford Figo hatchback, drew international condemnation after being uploaded to the website Ads of the World.

Both JWT and Ford quickly apologized, and said the work was unauthorized.

Later it emerged that the ads had been entered in India's leading ad awards Goafest, with a letter of approval from the client. Mr. Pawar withdrew the ads before the final round of judging. Mr. Pawar, another creative and a Ford marketing exec all lost their jobs.

But that hasn't impacted Mr. Pawar's career trajectory, as he's landed back on his feet just two months later. In his new role, will partner with Partha Sinha, who joins as director, chief strategy officer for South Asia from his current role as managing partner of BBH in India, reported Exchange4Media, Ad Age's editorial partner in India.

A third exec, Ambika Srivastava, will be director, marketing and new business India at Publicis. Amid widespread rumors last week in India that Mr. Pawar's next move would be to start his own agency, he called such rumors were "wild speculation" but indicated there were "a couple of opportunities that are knocking on my door."

Mr. Pawar has always worked for big agencies. He was at JWT for just over a year, after spending five years as chief creative officer of DDB Mudra Group. Before that, he was group creative director at Energy BBDO between 2004 and 2007, after returning from three years in the U.S. as a senior partner and creative director at Ogilvy in New York.

In wasting little time scooping him from rival WPP, French holding company Publicis Groupe gave Mr. Pawar and his new colleagues its vote of confidence.

"India is central to the future success of our key clients and indeed to our own success," said Jean-Yves Naouri, chief operating officer at Publicis Groupe and executive chairman at Publicis Worldwide. "We are committed to making the required investments in this critical market...these hires confirm our ambitions to invest in top talent. I have no doubt that the new team will help meet our aspirations and those of our clients."

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