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McCann India's Hanes ads run into global controversy

They were ads that McCann-Erickson India was hoping would win them some international awards. Instead, they have now snowballed into an international controversy.

The ads featured a man dragging offensive images and racist words associated with the gay (f***ot), the African-American (n***er) and the South Asian (P**i) communities, which appeared once each on December 26, 27 and 28, 2007, in the Free Press Journal. Read more at India times

Update from Dab in comments: Interpublic apologizes for fake Hanes ads created by rogue employees at McCann India without knowledge of client or agency. Individuals responsible no longer with McCann – Updated 4.21 + Images added.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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bittertruth's picture

Fake local print ads were produced by McCann Erickson India – without the knowledge, approval or consent of Hanesbrands Inc. – solely for the purpose of entry into creative competitions. These fake ads were wholly inconsistent with the interest of the Hanes brand, would never have been approved had our internal procedures been followed and, accordingly, should never have been publicly distributed.

We have apologized to Hanesbrands for developing this objectionable work, which uses hateful language. We extend our apologies to those who these fake ads have offended, as well as to Hanesbrands’ customers and business partners.

The ads in question were developed and run locally, without the knowledge of anyone at IPG, or of McCann’s global management. The ads appeared once in a small publication in Mumbai in late 2007 so as to qualify for consideration in award competitions and were recently posted by local Indian employees at McCann onto two web sites that display international advertising campaigns. We have identified the circumstances that led to this violation of our policies and of our trust, and we are taking immediate corrective action.
http://apology4fakehanesads.word....wordpress.com/ .

Dabitch's picture

That last link should read http://apology4fakehanesads.wordpress.com/ shouldn't it?

Also, how bizarre to start an entire blog for a press release apology. wtf?

bittertruth's picture

Apparently IPG is pissed off!

purplesimon's picture

It's weird that, once you start looking at the comments on a lot of blogs, people are okay with these ads! No, seriously.

I'm not agreeing with that stance, but I thought it worth a punt to look on blogs and see what the general reaction was. Of course, they have offended many, but I was surprised at the positive comments I read here. Original blog source here.

I'm sure others can point to those offended by it (including client and agency management, probably the two most important people to keep on-side). It'll be interesting to see what happens and maybe it'll provoke a debate on scam ads and whether they should be allowed at all.

bittertruth's picture

"Sources within the agency say since Hanes is not a major account for the agency, it is not too worried about losing the account in India. "

This is the icing on the cake!


This is not the first time that McCann India has got into trouble. A similar incident took place a few years ago when a member of their creative team created an ad called ‘United Colours of Domestic Violence’ for Benetton. Benetton was not McCann’s client and the company took strong objection to the ad.

Dabitch's picture

Personally I think scam ads undermine the industry as a whole (when entering awards as real ads). But then I never liked kids who cheated on tests either.

NoCloset's picture

I'm uploading the images here so that people can see what we are talking about. This campaign is truly offensive. Not just the words but the images. "Faggot" has lipstick and dildos, "paki" has tanks and pigs, "nigger" has syringes and guns. If this was a campaign to show why words hurt, I'd understand it perhaps but selling Hanes??? Why didn't this cause a worldwide uproar like the "Absolut Mexico" ad?
Of course they should loose the account, I'm emailing these to Hanes USA.
And why is it that everything posted at adsoftheworld seems to be a fake campaign? There's no way to tell if it's real when it it's posted there.

NoCloset's picture

‘United Colours of Domestic Violence’ sounds horrible as well, I wonder what drugs they are on over at Mcann India

bittertruth's picture

The sad part is the juniors got the axe while the bosses who encourage scam ads are still hanging on.
If it had won some awards, the bosses would have gone up to the stage.
Doesn't the captain go down with the ship?