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A Cartoon Depiction Of Malala Yousafzai’s Assassination Attempt Is Being Used To Sell Mattresses

A print ad for Indian mattress brand Kurl-On shows the 14-year-old being shot, dripping blood, and “bouncing back” off a mattress into recovery. The ad agency has apologized.

1. Update — 12:20 p.m.: Ad agency Ogilvy & Mather has issued an apology to Malala Yousafzai and her family:

2. A statement on their website expressed that they regret issuing the print ad:


The recent Kurl-On ads from our India office are contrary to the beliefs and professional standards of Ogilvy & Mather and our clients.

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. 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.

3. Earlier this week, Indian mattress brand Kurl-On launched a print campaign, designed by ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. This was one of the ads featured:

Via Kurl-on / Ads of the World

The campaign, titled “Bounce Back,” features inspirational figures overcoming adversity. The above ad depicts Malala Yousafzai’s near-fatal 2012 assassination attempt by the Taliban, and her “bouncing back” from it. The trophy she is being handed is likely a reference to Yousafzai’s 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nomination for her activist work aimed at accessible education for girls.

4. Many Twitter users are of the opinion that exploiting such a recent and horrendous tragedy to push a product is in poor taste:

I am speechless and genuinely sickened by this -http://t.co/lflFfdwtL7 @Ogilvy #media #ethics

— ShoutMumbai (@Ricky Ghai)

7. The ads were designed by Lamano Estudio, a Chilean illustration firm. A spokesperson for the firm agreed that the ad might be too violent:


“We are worried that it’s the only thing that sticks with you after seeing the ad,” Patricio Vergara Calderón, head of strategic planning at Lamano, told 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, which is what they told us they wanted when we started the graphic.”

8. Two other images were released simultaneously. Here is Steve Jobs, presumably “bouncing back” from being pushed out of his own company:

Via Kurl-On / Ads Of The World

9. And Gandhi, drawn into a famous scene from his life when, as a young lawyer in South Africa, he was kicked off a train for not being white. He “bounces back” into leading a revolution.

Via Kurl-On / Ads Of The World

10. The criticisms of the ad featuring Malala have not extended to the other two in the series:

That Malala advert by Kurl On is definitely in poor taste, but the other ads in the series are conceptually really good.

— MainBhiPhenku (@Mr. Miyagi)

11. Kurl-On did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed’s request for a statement.

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