A classified ad for KaiAviation clothing, seen in the February and March 2021 issues of Pilot magazine, featured images of the clothing. One image showed a woman in a vest top posing next to an aeroplane. Another image featured a cropped close-up of a woman’s buttocks in briefs printed with the words “FOLLOW ME”. A third image featured another cropped close-up of a woman’s buttocks in briefs printed with the words “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT”. A final image showed a vest top and several pairs of briefs featuring the slogan “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT”.
IssueThe complainant, who believed that the ad objectified the women, objected that it was offensive, irresponsible and harmful.
ResponsePerson(s) unknown t/a KaiAviation did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries. Archant, the publishers of Pilot magazine, stated KaiAviation was a long-standing advertiser and had run the same copy previously. They said they had never had a complaint made to the magazine about their ads. Archant believe that the ad was suitable as KaiAviation sold aviation-themed underwear for men and women and the images showed those products. The “remove before flight” and “follow me” slogans were well-known aviation terms and were often used in aviation merchandise.
The ASA contacted KaiAviation by email and post, obtaining proof of signed delivery, but did not receive a response to the complaint. We asked Archant to forward copies of the correspondence to their contact at KaiAviation, but did not receive confirmation that they had done so.
We were concerned by KaiAviation’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We noted that KaiAviation sold a number of different garments featuring aviation-related slogans. Their range for women included vest tops, bra tops, thongs and briefs. One of the images in the ad featured a woman wearing one of the vests, shown from the waist up posing next to an aeroplane. We did not consider that the pose was sexualised. Another image showed a top, briefs and thongs lying on a surface. We considered that, given the nature of the clothing being promoted, those images were relevant to the product and were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, or harm. The other two images were cropped close-ups of the models’ buttocks wearing pairs of briefs, one with the slogan “Follow me” and the other reading “Remove before flight”.
We considered that those images, which focused on the women’s body parts while obscuring their faces, in combination with the suggestive nature of the slogans when seen in this context, stereotyped women by presenting them as sexual objects. Overall, we considered that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and included a gender stereotype in a way that was likely to cause harm. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of: age; disability; gender; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. and 4.9 4.9 Marketing communications must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.
See Advertising Guidance: “Depicting gender stereotypes likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence?” (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Person(s) unknown t/a KaiAviation to ensure that their ads were socially responsible and did not cause serious or widespread offence by objectifying women. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team.