Virgin Mobile US takes down Christmas ad 'trivializing rape'

Sydney, Dec. 10 (ANI): Virgin Mobile US has pulled down an online ad that appeared to make light of rape, which forced its founder Sir Richard Branson to publicly intervene.

The ad depicted a man holding a gift while shielding a woman's eyes with the caption: "The gift of Christmas surprise. Necklace? Or chloroform".

The mention to the organic compound, which was used as an anesthetic, and also as a tool for criminals to knock out their victims, sparked an immediate online backlash on Twitter after user EverydaySexism published a screenshot of the ad, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

According to the report, many targeted their rage at Branson, prompting him to write on his blog that the ad was "ill-judged" and the company had "gone too far".

"Although I don't own the company, it carries our brand . . . having spoken with them just now they acknowledge a dreadful mistake was made," Branson wrote.

"The advert, along with the whole calendar, has been removed, never to be seen again," he added.

According to the report, an earlier posting reportedly in the Virgin Christmas ad campaign showed Santa giving a thumbs up with the caption: "Sees you when you're sleeping - ladies". (ANI)