Budget airline Ryanair has been rapped by a watchdog for a “sexist” advertising campaign which “objectified” women.
The promotion, which showed a scantily-clad model in lingerie, sparked a string of complaints with one flight attendant claiming it portrayed cabin crew as glamour models. The adverts, which ran with the strapline “Red Hot Fares & Crew”, have now been banned.
The move comes after thousands of people backed calls for the promotion to be axed. A string of 17 complainants also lodged grievances with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which concluded the campaign was likely to cause “widespread offence”.
It said one image, entitled “Ornella February”, which showed a model pulling down the top of her pants with a thumb, was particularly “sexually suggestive”.
Ryanair, no stranger to controversy, said the promotion featured shots taken from its 2012 cabin crew charity calendar.
It claimed the pictures were not sexist because members of staff had volunteered to produce the images, the watchdog said. But the ASA disagreed and ruled the adverts could not appear again.
“We also considered that most readers would interpret these images, in conjunction with the text ‘Red hot fares & crew!!!’ and the names of the women, as linking female cabin crew with sexually suggestive behaviour,” it said.
“Although we acknowledged that the women in the ads had consented to appear in the calendar, we considered that the ads were likely to cause widespread offence, when displayed in a national newspaper.”
The promotion caused a furore when it was launched last year and more than 5,000 people lent their support to the online campaign, led by a flight attendant called Ghada.
At the time she said: “I’m a member of cabin crew. I love my job and take it seriously, so I was disgusted to see this Ryanair ad which basically portrays cabin crew as glamour models.
“My work colleagues, many of whom are male, work hard with me to ensure the safety of our passengers.
“Safety is our number-one priority, not the brand of our underwear.”
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