The Media Guardian reports today that Saatchi & Saatchi London has been fired by Dr Martens for running an advertising campaign featuring dead rock stars Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone, and Joe Strummer wearing the their Doc Martens boots in heaven. The ads have been flying around the net recently, mostly posted on blogs. Quite a few have commented on the ads being in poor taste.
David Suddens, the chief executive of Dr Martens parent company Airwear, said the brand had not commissioned the series of four print ads.
"Dr Martens is very sorry for any offence that has been caused by the publication of images showing dead rock icons wearing Dr Martens boots," said Doc Martens CEO, Suddens.
"Dr Martens did not commission the work as it runs counter to our current marketing activities based on FREEDM, which is dedicated to nurturing grass roots creativity and supporting emerging talent.
"Our mistake was to say, yes, it may appear in the one-off edition. We did not commission it and did not even like it. I'm really terribly sorry."
"As a consequence, Dr Martens has terminated its relationship with the responsible agency."
Cobain's widow, Courtney Love was not at all pleased about the use of Kurt Cobain's image without her permission.
"Courtney had no idea this was taking place and would never have approved such a use," a representative for the Hole singer told People magazine.
"She thinks it's outrageous that a company is allowed to commercially gain from such a despicable use of her husband's picture."
Courtney's open dislike of the advertisements, albeit through a representative, have caused Dr Martens to apologise although it is not certain if the advertisements will go on to be shown.
"Dr Martens is very sorry for any offence that has been caused by the publication of images showing dead rock icons wearing Dr. Martens boots," a statement from the company read.
As Doc Martens claims the ads were never given approval, Kate Stanners at Saatchi yesterday put out a statement defending the work as a homage to the rock icons and stated that the campaign had been approved to run once in Fact Magazine in the UK.
"We believe the ads are edgy but not offensive. There has been a blog community for and against the ads, but it is our belief that they are respectful of both the musicians and the Dr. Martens brand.
"While we believe the creative campaign is a beautiful tribute to four legendary musicians, the individual broke both agency and client protocol in this situation by placing the ads on a U.S. advertising Web site and acting as an unauthorized spokesperson for the company," Stanners said.