If heaven is a place on earth, as Belinda Carlisle sang in 1987, that place is not the London offices of ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi. As initially reported on thedailyswarm.com, the agency has been sacked by Airwair Ltd. -- makers of Dr. Martens footwear -- because of an ad campaign that shows retouched images of deceased musicians sporting the popular steel-toed boots in heaven.
The U.K.-only campaign features rock and punk icons Sid Vicious, Kurt Cobain, Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer. Airwair CEO David Suddens told the Daily Swarm that the posters were not supposed to see the light of day. According to Suddens, the images did not represent the brand at all, and thus, were rejected.
In a letter, Suddens writes, "Dr. Martens did not commission the work as it runs counter to our current marketing activities based on FREEDM, which is dedicated to nurturing grass roots creativity and supporting emerging talent."
The letter continued, "As a consequence, Dr. Martens has terminated its relationship with the responsible agency.
Saatchi & Saatchi, meanwhile, stands by its work. "The client approved the ads to run as a one-off in Fact Magazine in the U.K.," according to a prepared statement from Saatchi & Saatchi.
In the statement, Saatchi & Saatchi executive creative director Kate Stanners said the four print ads were presented as an homage to rock legends. According to the agency, all four musicians were known for wearing Dr. Martens boots.
Stanners continued, "We regret that the controversy has led Dr. Martens to terminate the contract with Saatchi & Saatchi."
Stanners goes on to say the agency is investigating the circumstances and considering the ongoing employment of the individual who was in breach of instructions not to distribute the ads further than the original approval placement in the U.K.'s Fact Magazine.
"While we believe the creative is a beautiful tribute to four legendary musicians, the individual broke both agency and client protocol in this situation by placing the ads on a US advertising website [adcritic.com] and acting as an unauthorised spokesperson for the company," Stanners said. The iconic images were sourced from Corbis and cleared to run in the ads in the U.K.