KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Firefly’s recent use of the female derriere in a Facebook promotion for cheap air tickets was disrespectful and objectifies women as objects for sale, gender rights groups here said even as the airline removed the online advertisements.
Women’s Centre for Change (WCC), Penang’s Melissa Mohd Akhir said Firefly could have chosen to enhance its commercial image by focusing on the quality of its services instead of resorting to what she described as “cheap advertising”.
“It is clear objectification when the image featured had zoomed in presumably on the buttocks of Firefly’s own women employees in order to sell discounted tickets.
“In featuring this tawdry advertisement, Firefly and other airlines that have utilised similarly tasteless marketing ploys, are effectively saying that women are mere objects for ‘sale’,” the group’s senior advocacy officer told Malay Mail Online when contacted for response.
She pointed out that Malaysia had only days ago celebrated with the rest of the world International Women’s Day with the hope that gender equality will soon become reality and a call on local businesses to stop discriminatory practises and misogynistic treatment of women.
“Disrespectful commercial practises that normalise exploitation of women must stop. Firefly and all corporations must prioritise respect,” she said.
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) president Janarthani Arumugam said advertisements that use women’s bodies to lure more viewers were “highly disrespectful”.
“Depicting women’s bodies as commodities is symptomatic of the male gaze which objectifies women. Corporations co-opt these harmful perceptions and further perpetuate these limiting ideas of women,” she told Malay Mail Online.
“Shame on Firefly especially when half your customers and staff are women! I would urge the women flight attendants and staff to organise a strike for exploiting their bodies for profits!” she added.
Facebook users rained criticism on Firefly Airlines this week after the airline featured women’s bottoms in their advertisements for cheap flight tickets, some describing the promotional material as “sexist” and “disgusting”.
The airline had posted two related advertisements on March 7 and March 11 on its Facebook page, both showing the bottom half of women in pencil skirts. A check on the airline’s page yesterday evening showed that both were removed although they were available earlier in the day.
The first advertisement posted along with the message “Come grab it real fast” showed a woman in the airline’s corporate orange colour standing beside a bench that had a signage that said “50%” on it. The woman’s skirt had the same “50%” imprinted on, indicating that the freshly painted sign had rubbed off on her derriere. Featured in the advertisement were the words “Firefly sticks to you”.
In the second advertisement where the airline said it was increasing its discount to 60 per cent, the figures “50%” and “10%” were imprinted on the black-skirted bottoms of two women. Beside their images was the phrase, “Oooppss.. We Did It Again”.
Malay Mail Online contacted Firefly Airlines on Friday but has yet to receive a response on the advertisements of a three-day promotion ending today for flights during the travel period of March 11, 2016 to March 25, 2017.