Taxi company refuses to apologise for ad which mocks ‘fat and ugly’ women
It says ‘if I start to look sexy book a taxi’
A taxi company has been forced into a U-turn over a sexist ad that mocks ‘fat and ugly’ older women. The posters show an older, overweight model with her finger in her mouth telling people to call a cab if they find her attractive. The caption reads: “If I start to look sexy book a taxi. Don’t make bad decisions because you have had one too many!”
The campaign was created by Bristol-based CityFox which claimed it carried a serious underlying message to people about getting home safe after drinking. They also published similar posters aimed at women featuring a greasy-looking, tattooed man leering at the camera with a beer in his hand. The company has now withdrawn the adverts after complaints, but several flyers featuring the female model are still on display across Bristol.
Bristol Women’s Voice condemned the campaign claiming it reinforced harmful gender stereotypes. Chair Penny Gane said: “We are appalled to see this advert being used by City Fox Taxis in central Bristol. Images such as this are antiquated and reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and messages that women are to be judged by their physical appearance alone as well as being fat- and age-shaming.
“It is unacceptable for businesses to use derogatory and sexist images especially when targeting younger audiences. This should be seen as an opportunity to present modern images that challenge harmful stereotypes and present a broad range of representations that young people can relate to.
“Whilst we would of course endorse the message of keeping safe, this advert assumes that all students will be drinking heavily and looking for ‘sexy’ women. The advert is aimed at men, and normalises and encourages this behaviour.”
Sophie Palmer, marketing and communications manager at CityFox Group, said: “As one of the West Country’s biggest taxi providers, we see all too often the effects that excessive alcohol consumption can have on people’s safety and wellbeing, and the destructive consequences for society when this leads to anti-social behaviour. This campaign featured two posters – one depicting a male and one a female – in an attempt to encourage people to think about the need to be able to get home in a safe and orderly manner when they’ve had a few too many to drink.
“We make no apology for using humour and hard-hitting messages to highlight this issue – in order for people to think about the possible effects of their behaviour it is necessary to get their attention and get a reaction. The campaign has attracted many positive comments. However, it would never be our intention to cause embarrassment or offense, and as such we have withdrawn the campaign.
“We want people to enjoy the benefits of a night on the town, but also to make sure they get home safely afterwards, and we are always happy to work positively with any individual or organisation to achieve this aim.”