I’M NAT USUALLY TOPLESS WHEN I RIDE THE BUS
Welsh public transport company New Adventure Travel’s (NAT) new advert has received a backlash of as many as 45 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. Even the likes of Charlotte Church had something to say about it when she referred to it as ‘abhorrent’.
The advert showcases a mixture of pictures of a half naked man and woman spread on the rear end of several Cardiff based buses, displaying the slogan “ride me all day for £3”.
However, even though the company have promised to scrap the ads within 24 hours (less than 48 hours after the launch) because of overwhelming criticism, there is one professional in particular who defends the campaign. Although, in my opinion, the biased view from the head of the modelling agency that supplied the models is hardly going to help to reverse the overwhelming public hate towards it and call for the cancellation of the bus advert scrubber.
The company defended the campaign by explaining their intention, which was not to cause offence but to be a little ‘tongue and cheek’ to attract the younger generation to use the bus operator. Yes, buses do need to appeal more to the younger generation, however there’s a need to initiate this without offending the existing bus-user market. Would recipients of an age related free bus pass feel comfortable travelling on a bus plastered with such suggestive content? I’d suggest not. Still further, with the travel organisation having a school-run service it is hardly appropriate for children to be questioning the ‘objectifying’ slogan.
Surprisingly, not every response was negative to the campaign. Supportive boss of the model agency described the ads as ‘misguided’, while making a snide dig at Charlotte Church’s previous ladish drinking behaviour and pleaded with her to ‘stop judging other people’.
I honestly think that appeals on social media to ‘boycott’ the bus company are a little extreme with some keyboard warriors suggesting that the advert promotes sexism and rape. Even feminist groups have slammed the campaign, despite the use of both genders in their adverts where individuals still perceive the adverts to be sexist and apparently having a male version didn’t make it less distasteful.
The real mistake that was made here was the lack of research undertaken into how the campaign will be consumed by its varied customer base when NAT chose to follow a Calvin Klein style campaign.
Did they not expect this public outrage? Maybe it was just certain folk not being ready for banter on a Monday or maybe it was just a campaign that pushed it too far even for the 21st century.