Agency apologizes for mattress ad depicting Malala Yousafzai shooting

An Indian mattress company has caused an international uproar over an advertisement depicting activist Malala Yousafzai being shot in the head. Ogilvy & Mather

TORONTO — Ad agency Ogilvy & Mather has apologized for an Indian mattress company ad that caused an international uproar  for depicting activist Malala Yousafzai being shot in the head.

“The recent Kurl-On ads from our India office are contrary to the beliefs and professional standards of Ogilvy & Mather and our clients,” said Greg Carton, spokesperson for the agency, in an email statement. “We deeply regret this incident and want to personally apologize 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.”

Carton said the company is launching a “thorough review” of its approval and oversight processes.

The ad was created for Kurl-On, and shows Yousafzai being shot in the face and falling backwards covered in blood and then being attached to an IV drip before “bouncing back” to receive an award.

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In 2012, Yousafzai, then 14, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she rode the bus to school. After spending weeks in hospital recovering from the attack, Yousafzai returned to advocating on behalf of girls’ education rights around the world.

READ MORE: Who is Malala Yousafzai?

Industry experts have joined in the chorus of those condemning the ad.

Canadian executive Tom Megginson wrote on his blog: “14-year-olds getting shot in the face by terrorists are appropriate content for mattress ads now? I am ashamed to be in the same industry as these ad people.”

The company Kurl-On reportedly commissioned a series of three advertisements from the design agency under the motto “Bouncing Back.” One of the other two ads features Gandhi leaving his career as a lawyer before becoming a peace activist and the other shows Steve Jobs’ rise as founder of Apple.

Since the shooting Yousafzai has released her autobiography, and received several humanitarian awards for her activism, including a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

*This story has been update to add comment from Ogilvy & Mather

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