Shame on Ryanair – how dare they try and sell sex!
THE HARD WORD | PR genius or foolery? Either way these ads are anything but offensive. It isn’t about ‘horny men’ ruling the world, but about Ryanair doing exactly what everyone else does. Selling sex.
“THERE ARE FAR more horny men than staunch feminists so they’ve probably got more to gain than to lose.”
This was the response from a very learned PR pundit when quizzed about Ryanair’s latest slip-up with the Advertising Standards Authority.
The budget airline was last week forced to scrap its latest ad campaign after 17 complaints were brought against it claiming the ads were sexist, objectified cabin crew and were “offensive and unsuitable” for the likes of national newspapers. Hysteria soon typically followed with 11,000 people signing a petition to remove the ads.
The Irish company was unrepentant, saying the images were taken from its latest charity calendar and the girls were able and willing participants. As part of its ruling the ASA said: “We considered that most readers would interpret these images in conjunction with the text… and the names of the women, as linking female cabin crew with sexually suggestive behaviour.”
The Hard Word doesn’t consider itself a raging chauvinist and is even willing to admit it is sometimes sympathetic to the plight of staunch feminists. But this scribe is perplexed. If these ads ‘link female cabin crew with sexually suggestive behaviour’ surely the same could be said for underwear models, makeup models or even shoe ads. Heck even coffee, icecream, perfume, soft drinks, crisps… oh how the list continues… all use… ahem… sex to sell their product.
I get what the ASA is saying. In fact its ruling was frankly (almost) spot on. Of course it’s sexually suggestive but that’s what works. There are tens of thousands of ads strewn as far as the eye can see featuring men and women promoting such behaviour. But the idea that these ads are objectifying female cabin crew is absurd.
The ASA revealed late last year it would be taking a “firmer line” on sexualised advertising and would deal with complaints on a “case-by-case basis”. I have no problem with clamping down on some of these ads, many featuring the sexualisation of children are simply outrageous.
But I just don’t get how there is anything wrong with the Ryanair ads in question. If we’re going to jump up and down about a woman seductively holding the top of her pants with her thumb, while wearing rather modest lingerie, where will the nanny state clap-trap end? It is nothing more than a bit of fun. The initial complaint was allegedly brought about by a disgruntled female staff member who cried “safety is our number-one priority, not the brand of our underwear”. Please. Could it just be a sad old case of the green-eyed monster.
The text screams ‘RED HOT FARES and crew’. Why is this something some of us want to shy away from? The industry is full of beautiful hostesses and good-looking men. This has been celebrated since the days of Don Draper. But so is every other industry. The ads don’t objectify female cabin crew staff any more than beers ads promote all us men as clueless, deadbeat, beer swilling yobs.
Ryanair has attracted its fair share of controversy in the past. It was investigated last year again by the ASA for promoting ‘cheap flights to the sun’ which turned out to be anything but warm destinations. It was also ordered to pay £45,000 in 2008 after using a picture of French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his wife Carla Bruni in an ad.
Generally speaking the airline is acting within the boundaries of the law, while cleverly bearing witness to its own storm in a teacup.
PR genius or foolery? Either way they are anything but offensive. It isn’t about ‘horny men’ ruling the world, but about Ryanair doing exactly what everyone else does. Selling sex.
Bring back the ads!
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