Saatchi & Saatchi has been forced to defend creative work for Doc Martens that ran in the UK, after the iconic shoe brand apologised for running a series of ads featuring dead rock stars and kicked the agency off its account.
The footwear company issued a statement with David Suddens chief executive saying “Dr Martens is very sorry for any offence that has been caused by the publication of images showing dead rock icons wearing Dr Martens boots.
“Dr Martens did not commission the work as it runs counter to our current marketing activities based on FREEDM, which is dedicated to nurturing grassroots creativity and supporting emerging talent. As a consequence, Dr Martens has terminated its relationship with the responsible agency.”
The ads featured the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious and Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain, and Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone wearing nothing other than a sheet and Doc Marten boots floating in heaven. Cobain’s widow Courtney Love is said to have branded the ads “despicable”.
Kate Stanners, executive creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi says: “We believe the ads are edgy but not offensive. There has been blog commentary both for and against the ads, but it is our belief that they are respectful of both the musicians and the Dr. Martens brand.
“We regret that the controversy has led Dr. Martens to terminate the contract.” She added that an “individual broke both agency and client protocol in this situation by placing the ads on a US advertising website and acting as an unauthorised spokesperson for the company.”