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Air Asia apologises for ‘Get off in Thailand’ ad

An Air Asia ad encouraging people to “Get off in Thailand” has been removed from buses in Brisbane, Australia, after being accused of promoting sex tourism.

Collective Shout, a grassroots movement against the objectification of women, took to Twitter yesterday to protest what it called a “dog whistle to sex tourists”.

“Collective Shout would like to see Air Asia follow up their apology with action. This isn’t the first time they have used sexualised advertising, so there is a pattern that needs to stop,” Coralie Alison, director of Collective Shout, told Mumbrella.

“We contacted Air Asia directly yesterday but they didn’t respond directly other than to refer us back to their earlier media comments.

“Regardless of how swiftly they act to get these ads down, the fact is, the harm has already been done and society is left to clean up the damage. Many people were involved in the design, publication and installation of these ads and they are all complicit.”

Collective Shout states that 250,000 western male sex tourists visit Thailand annually, 32,000 of whom are Australian.

The ad also appears as a billboard at Brisbane airport, however the airport tweeted that it is removing the billboard as a priority, despite the “logistical challenges”.

Melinda Liszewski, a campaigner at Collective Shout, tweeted that while Brisbane airport was responsive, Brisbane City Council was “fobbing responsibility” to Ad Standards.

“Brisbane City Council have been complicit before with ads for Sexpo, including web links to porn sites, on buses on a school route,” Alison added.

“They repeatedly refer complaints to Ad Standards knowing that the self-regulatory system is a complete failure. A new regulatory regime will be an election call.”

The bus ad in question comes after Air Asia introduced direct flights from Brisbane to Bangkok in February.

“We take community feedback extremely seriously and sincerely apologise to those who have raised concerns,” an Air Asia spokesperson told Mumbrella, stating that the campaign aimed to promote Bangkok as a final destination.

“The campaign has since ended and our media partners had the last of these advertisements removed yesterday.”

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