The Guardian should not have accepted Ryanair sexist adverts

I am disappointed that the Guardian and the Independent accepted advertisements from Ryanair deemed sexist by the Advertising Standards Authority. I very much take the view that both these left-leaning titles should have been more careful about the advertising they allow on their pages. While I accept that times are hard, it is still important not to compromise for the sake of advertising revenue.

Two UK newspaper adverts for budget airline Ryanair have been banned after complaints from readers that they were sexist and objectified women. Having received 17 complaints, the ASA said they were likely to cause offence.

The ASA are absolutely right, and are to be congratulated for their stance. They have been very clear that these adverts must not appear again.

The adverts showed women posing in bra and pants with the headline “Red Hot Fares & Crew! One way from £9.99”.

The advertising watchdog found the women’s appearance, stance and gaze – together with the headline – would be seen as linking female cabin crew with sexually suggestive behaviour and breached the advertising practice code. “We considered that the ads were likely to cause widespread offence, when displayed in a national newspaper,” it said.

The airline had the brass neck to say the adverts promoted its cabin crew charity calendar and used images taken directly from it. This is the very same calendar I have attacked on many occasions on this blog. I have even debated the calendar with Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. The calendar in its entirety is sexist and objectifies women.

Ryanair has, of course, been reprimanded by the ASA on a number of occasions over the years. The Guardian and Independent should, however, know better. I say this as a Guardian reader for over 40 years who has always enjoyed and respected its renowned women’s pages.

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2 responses to “The Guardian should not have accepted Ryanair sexist adverts

  1. Some years ago, Southwest Airlines (USA) tried the same type of sexist ploy in an effort to build its business commuter trade in Texas. It launched its “Fly Me” campaign with huge billboard ads featuring the company airplane logo merged with a woman’s body and with flight attendants in bright red hot pants and white go-go boots. The campaign drew more jeers than cheers from the flying public. After a woman took over as CEO, company promotions began to stress smart management, a top safety record, efficient schedules and fast, good humored service from crews in business-like uniforms. Southwest is now one of the top airlines in the US with routes spanning the country. Its recent expansion into the important Atlanta hub was celebrated with typical Southwest elan: http://www.blogsouthwest.com/ “Atlanta At Last” video.

  2. Ryanair generate lots of column inches with their controversial ads, then more when they are banned, all the while calling the advertising watchdog ‘idiots’ (see http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/news/1119613/Ryanair-boss-OLeary-hits-back-ASA-idiots/). If we can’t actually block the adverts at source (by getting newspapers to refuse them), perhaps we should all stop writing about them!