The agency behind an Indian mattress company's print ad that depicts the shooting of Malala Yousafzai has apologized for the controversial spot.
"The recent Kurl-On ads from our India office are contrary to the beliefs and professional standards of Ogilvy & Mather and our clients," Ogilvy & Mather said in a statement released Thursday. "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 ad, created for Kurl-on by Ogilvy & Mather’s Asia Pacific branch, shows a cartoon image of Yousafzai being shot in the face by a gun and falling backward through the air with blood dripping from her head before landing on one of the company's spring mattresses and bouncing back as an inspirational survivor.
In 2012, Yousafzai, then a 14-year-old student and activist, was shot in the forehead by a Taliban gunman on her way to school.
"We deeply regret this incident and want to personally apologize to Malala Yousafzai and her family," the company said.
Earlier, Lamano Estudio's Patricio Vergara Calderón, head of strategic planning at the studio that created the ad, had expressed concern about the violent imagery but defended its overall message.
"We are worried that it's the only thing that sticks with you after seeing the ad," Calderón wrote in an email to the Huffington Post. "The Kurl-on ad tries to do the complete opposite, it's about triumphing over violence.
“The scene portrays a real event, an example of heroism that is very powerful, especially in Eastern countries," Calderón continued. "Which is what they told us they wanted.”
Yousafzai is one of several famous figures included in the "Bounce Back" series. Other ads show Steve Jobs' abrupt exit and triumphant return at Apple, and Mahatma Gandhi being tossed from a train and later becoming a spiritual leader.
The reaction to Yousafzai's spot has ranged from disbelief to outrage.
"I cannot believe this is real," Fusion's Alex Alvarez wrote.
"Worst advertising campaign ever?" BuzzFeed's Paul Hamilos tweeted.
"Worst Ad of the Day," Copyranter.com's Mark Duffy declared.