EasyJet faces ASA rap as ‘sexist and offensive’ ad is investigated

A recent press campaign for low-budget airline easyJet, which features a woman’s breasts and the tagline “Discover weapons of mass distraction”, has attracted complaints for being sexist and offensive. The ads are being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

It is not the first time that the airline has courted controversy. Earlier this year, The Economist complained that the airline had copied one of its previous advertisements (MW April 17).

Last week, easyJet was ordered by the advertising watchdog to make clear that its discounted prices do not include taxes and charges, after the Consumers’ Association objected to ads offering flights for &£1.

Meanwhile, Ryanair’s press ads, which show a picture of Saddam Hussein, have escaped ASA’s censure. The complainants objected that the ads trivialised the war on Iraq and were in bad taste. One of the ads showed a statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down, with the strapline: “Fares falling faster than Saddam!”

The ASA has also ordered Harvey Nichols to withdraw its press and poster ad, which shows a female car driver applying lipstick and a blurred photograph of a pedestrian through the windscreen, on the grounds of it being irresponsible and offensive to people who have been involved in road accidents. The campaign, created by BMP DDB, attracted 12 complaints.

However, the watchdog has not upheld complaints against Yves Saint Laurent’s Beauté ad for its Alexander McQueen perfume Kingdom. The ad, which features seven naked female bodies with their breasts partially obscured by their hair, attracted complaints claiming it was “irresponsibly showing young naked girls” (MW April 17).

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