Two press ads for Ryanair Ltd.
a. The first ad, published in The Guardian, showed a woman in a bra and pants. She had one hand on her hip and pulled her pants slightly down with the thumb of the other. The headline stated "RED HOT FARES & CREW!!! ONE WAY FROM £9.99". Further text stated "BUY THE 2012 CABIN CREW CHARITY CALENDAR ON RYANAIR.COM!", and in the bottom right corner of the photograph, "ORNELLA FEBRUARY".
b. The second ad, published in The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, showed a woman in a bra and pants. The headline stated "RED HOT FARES & CREW!!! ONE WAY FROM £9.99". Further text stated "BUY THE 2012 CABIN CREW CHARITY CALENDAR ON RYANAIR.COM!", and in the bottom right corner of the photograph, "GILLIAN MARCH".
1. Thirteen complainants, who believed ad (a) was sexist and objectified women, particularly female cabin crew, challenged whether it was offensive and unsuitable for display in a national newspaper.
2. Four complainants, who believed ad (b) was sexist and objectified women, particularly female cabin crew, challenged whether it was offensive and unsuitable for display in a national newspaper.
Ryanair Ltd (Ryanair) said the ads promoted their 2012 cabin crew charity calendar and used images taken directly from it. They said, because members of their cabin crew volunteered their time to produce and promote the calendar, it was not sexist and could not be seen to objectify the women who appeared in it. They said, because similar images of women and men often featured in the same media, the ads could not be deemed offensive or unsuitable for public display.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA noted both ads promoted one way fares from £9.99 and a cabin crew charity calendar. We also noted the women, featured in ads (a) and (b), were wearing underwear and looking directly at the reader and considered that, although the images were not overtly sexual in content, the appearance, stance and gaze of the women, particular the one in ad (a), who was shown pulling her pants slightly down, were likely to be seen as sexually suggestive. 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. 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 Code.
Ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
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 race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. 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. (Harm and offence).
Ads (a) and (b) must not appear again in their current form.