Sir Richard Branson has been forced to step in after an online Virgin Mobile US Christmas ad was blasted for making fun of rape.
The ad (below), which has now been removed, featured a gift-holding man covering the eyes of a woman with a caption that read: “The gift of Christmas surprise. Necklace? Or chloroform?”
The reference to chloroform, an anesthetic which can render people unconscious, was quickly slammed on Twitter with many angered consumers tweeting their thoughts to Branson.
Branson labeled the ad “ill-judged” and a “dreadful mistake” in a statement on his blog: “Having just seen, for the first time, the Virgin Mobile US advert which has upset many today, I agree it is ill-judged.”
“Although I don't own the company, it carries our brand. I will speak to the team there, make my thoughts clear and see what can be done about it.
“Virgin Mobile US usually get these things right, although on this occasion it is clear they have gone too far.”
Branson later updated his blog to ensure consumers that the advert and the entire calendar had been removed “never to be seen again”: “Having spoken with them the team has confirmed this was a rogue post by an external agency that was not approved by Virgin Mobile US.”
“They acknowledge a dreadful mistake has been made.”