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ASA bans ‘sexist’ Ryanair ad

Advertising watchdog says ad for budget airline is likely to cause offence after more than 11,000 people sign petition

The advertising watchdog has banned a Ryanair newspaper campaign featuring scantily-clad flight attendants, ruling that it linked female cabin crew with sexual behaviour and should not have appeared in national newspapers.

Ryanair ran two newspaper ads in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Independent featuring flight attendants in their underwear with the strapline: “Red hot fares & crew.”

The two flight attendants feature in February and March in the annual Ryanair charity calendar.

Ryanair, the Irish budget airline which has been referred to the Office of Fair Trading in the past over repeated breaches of the advertising code, was challenged over the ads by an online campaign led by an unnamed female flight attendant and signed by more than 11,000 people.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 17 complaints that the ad campaign was sexist, objectified cabin crew and was “offensive and unsuitable” to appear in a national newspaper.

Ryanair defended the campaign, arguing that because the ad used images taken from the charity calendar that the flight attendants had agreed to appear in, was not sexist and did not objectify women.

The ASA said that although the images were not overtly sexual the appearance, stance and gaze of the women were likely to be seen as sexually suggestive.

“We also 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 ASA 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, and therefore concluded that they breached the [advertising] code.”

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