Johannesburg - Ogilvy advertising agency apologised "unreservedly" on Friday for a pamphlet and website offering money for body parts that was actually part of a campaign to advertise a South African horror movie.
The campaign included a pamphlet saying "Dr Uba pays the best prices for all your body parts and organs... We pay keen cash for eyes (up to R5 000 in cash), breast (up to R1 800), tongue (up to R2 500 in cash!)".
The website showed pictures of a semi-naked woman about to go into surgery.
Spokesperson for Ogilvy and 1984, Rich Hlatshwayo, said in a statement that creative agency 1984, a subsidiary of Ogilvy, produced the campaign on behalf of Indigenous Film Distribution to promote the movie Night Drive.
"While the motivation behind this campaign was honourable, 1984 acknowledges that this was in bad taste and apologises unreservedly. The intention was never to mislead the public or media," he said.
MD for Ogilvy in Johannesburg, Julian Ribeiro, said the company 1984 consists of "three young talents who joined Ogilvy last year as 1984".
"They had an existing relationship with Indigenous Film Distribution and the project for Night Drive was ongoing."
Ribeiro said Ogilvy was "very upset" about the campaign, and disciplinary action would be taken "internally".
"1984 did seek legal counsel (before the campaign was launched) and were told to make sure that the details on the pamphlet and the website were fictitious... that the phone number would not work and that no harm would be brought to anyone."
He said the company aimed to create hype and reveal the link to the movie at a media screening on Friday (tonight).
"No one ever expected this kind of response. Only 800 leaflets were handed out at robots and the project had a low budget."
He said the movie is about the sale of animal parts and human body parts, but did not know when it would go on circuit.
"I have heard that some people are threatening to boycott the movie."
DA spokesperson for Gauteng health, Jack Bloom, condemned the campaign. He said: "This is extremely poor taste and trivialises a serious and under-reported problem.
"In February last year, deputy provincial police commissioner William Mpembe said that muti murders, particularly those involving young children, seem to be on the rise in the Tshwane areas."
Bloom hoped that the "public outcry" over the campaign would lead to more awareness and a "crackdown on the illegal human muti trade".