Michael O’Leary and Ryanair have been slammed for sexist adverts which objectified women.
The budget airline boss has been hauled over the coals for a promotion which featured a scantily clad stewardess in lingerie.
O’Leary, no stranger to controversy, has run foul of the British advertising standards authority, ASA, over the campaign which has now been banned.
Already under fire for his annual charity calendar featuring cabin crew in lingerie, O’Leary has been ordered to stop the saucy campaign after thousands of complaints.
The British authority found the ads to be ‘sexist’ after analysing the complaints, including one from a Ryanair flight attendant who claimed it portrayed cabin crew as glamour models.
The adverts ran with the strap line ‘Red Hot Fares & Crew’ and were deemed offensive after thousands of people backed calls for the promotion to be axed.
The British body also said 17 complainants lodged personal grievances and concluded that the campaign was likely to cause ‘widespread offence’.
In a statement, the authority said that one image, entitled ‘Ornella February’, which showed a model pulling down the top of her pants with a thumb, was particularly ‘sexually suggestive’.
In its defence, Ryanair said that all the images came from its 2012 charity calendar, which raised over a hundred thousand dollars.
The airline also claimed that the pictures were not sexist because members of staff had volunteered to produce the images.
The advertising watchdog disagreed however. A statement from ASA read: “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.”
Public opinion against the promotion was mobilized by an online campaign led by a flight attendant called Ghada.
At the time she said: “I’m a member of cabin crew. I love my job and take it seriously, so I was disgusted to see this Ryanair ad which basically portrays cabin crew as glamour models.
“My work colleagues, many of whom are male, work hard with me to ensure the safety of our passengers.
“Safety is our number-one priority, not the brand of our underwear.”