Cheeky or distasteful? Swoop Airlines’ ‘Keep it in your pants’ campaign draws criticism
The advertising campaign for WestJet’s new ‘ultra-low fair’ carrier has drawn ire on social media for being sexually suggestive and inappropriate but officials with Swoop Airlines say the ads are not intended to be offensive and are merely ' a little bit cheeky'.
The still ads, which show unidentified people holding their backsides as cash protrudes from their back pocket, use the tagline ‘keep it in your pants’.
The fine print of the ads references the savings customers are said to experience when booking flights with the airline but a number of people have come forward and criticized what they say is the sexual nature of the campaign.
The ad campaign surfaced while WestJet, Swoop’s parent company, is in the midst of a court battle with a flight attendant who alleged they had been the victim of sexual harassment.
David Howse, a marketing consultant and Mount Royal University instructor, says he believes Swoop’s campaign was an attempt to standout from its competitors in an emerging budget airline market in North America and may prove successful in that regard.
“What I’d be more worried about is, at a higher management or corporate level, your taking this company in a certain direction and showing a lack of respect or disregard to what’s already happening within your culture,” said Howse. “That could have a worse impact within the company itself.”
“For this, as a one off marketing opportunity, it’ll probably be successful but I don’t think it’s a good way to run WestJet.”
Officials with Swoop Airlines declined CTV Calgary’s request for an interview but an airline spokesperson issued the following statement by email on Tuesday.
“Yesterday (Monday, June 4) we launched a system-wide seat sale with three versions of creative for a balanced approach: one was a female with money sticking out of her back pocket, one was a male with money peeking out of his back pocket and one was a wallet. All three versions can be viewed on the Ads tab on our Facebook page."
"The campaign, as it was meant to, sparked some conversation online and while the response was largely positive/neutral, we received several comments and messages providing negative feedback."
"The Swoop brand is a little bit cheeky and sometimes we'll say or share things that might hit home for some and miss the mark with others however it's never our intention to offend. We welcome all of the feedback we've received and will take this opportunity to gain valuable insights from our travellers.”
With files from CTV's Alesia Fieldberg