Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meet the team who go the extra mile to make you feel special

I wasn't going to blog about the Cathay Pacific sex photo scandal. First of all, it's old news that has been well-covered by the major adblogs. Secondly, I'm trying to clean up my act on non-Friday posts. Just because it's about sex and advertising doesn't mean I have to blog about it, right?

Then I happened to check out the campaign site.

Oh, God. This thing has hours of unintentional (and highly puerile) comedy gold.

Let's start with the flash intro, which says "On the ground, in the air, behind the scenes and face-to-face, Cathay Pacific people always do their best to make you feel special."

"Providing Service Straight From the Heart" – this is what we offer to our passengers, and what our Flight Attendants proudly deliver. A Cathay Pacific Flight Attendant is a very special person: a trained safety officer, a caring team player and an ambassador for Hong Kong. It's definitely not a regular, "uniform" job. 

The "Meet the team" campaign has been remarkably successful for Cathay Pacific, particularly because it features attractive employees as symbols of the airline's famous customer service.

As Sociological Images pointed out, this approach was problematic in itself as it promoted passive feminine stereotypes. More on that later. We're here to have some fun.

The Meet the Team site features dozens of employee profiles, with pictures in uniform and out.

You click on whomever interests you, and get something like this:

Nancy's rather suggestive portrait aside, this one is pretty innocuous.

But check out some of the other employees' pull quotes in sexualized context:

It's the word "job" that's unfortunate here...

(Some other quotes, by the way, are not sexual in any way, but just plain bizarre:)


What What?

A Cathay pacific spokesperson is quoted as saying, "The timing of this scandal really could not have been worse in marketing terms ... The scope for the slogan and the campaign to be misinterpreted, or ridiculed and lampooned, in light of the cockpit incident, is obvious."

Personally, I think they set themselves up for this fail. By making their whole campaign about attractive, playful and accommodating crew, once a couple of employees got the idea to join the mile high club, the joke wrote itself.


  1. Are the pictures of the Ad Campaign photoshopped? I think you made changes to the pictures and reedited the words. You are posting stuff that is not true and it is unfair to mislead people in this manner.

  2. There are facts showing that Cathay Pacific has a perverted management team, who by hiding their accountability and by taking the advantages of abuse, their flight attendants may be being harassed and discriminated by that team in many ways.