RIDE CUT SHORT FOR CARDIFF BUS COMPANY

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Cardiff-based bus company, New Adventure Travel Group, put shock tactics to the test with a campaign featuring images of half-naked men and women along with the slogan ‘Ride Me All Day For £3’.

Unsurprisingly, the campaign sent local people into a spin and was met with widespread outrage, alienating its target audience in the process. According to New Adventure Travel Group (NAT), the tagline was developed to shock and create noise among the social and digital landscapes; however, as this proves, sex doesn’t always sell – not all publicity is good publicity.

Following the campaign launch, many people took to social media to express their disapproval, claiming that it objectified women and was sexist. Within hours, the advertisement went viral and was even picked up by international news outlets such as ABC and CNN. The slogan ‘Ride Me All Day For £3’ quickly became a ‘meme’ in the Twitter-sphere, with many Britons finding humorous links to the recent general election.

The NAT group is not the only company to face controversy over an overtly sexual campaign. Protein World recently faced a backlash against so-called sexist advertising and has since seen its headline-grabbing ‘Are you beach body ready?’ posters banned. Campaigners claimed that the advertisement, featuring a woman wearing a bikini, promoted an unhealthy body ideal. The suggestion is that if you take Protein World’s supplements, you too could be this beautiful, fit, perfect and ‘beach body-ready’.

Many of Protein World’s advertisements, which appeared across the London Underground, were defaced with ‘body positive’ slogans. However, despite the controversy, the company has boasted that sales of its product have tripled and its advertising had received a bonus as a result. Interestingly, Protein World took an unusual stance against what could have been a PR disaster for the company. The company reacted with a more aggressive response by posting inflammatory and offensive tweets about feminists and body image.

Although NAT’s campaign isn’t as daring or controversial as Protein World’s poster, it’s the latest in a string of protests against so-called ‘body shaming’ and what many consider to be unrealistic and sexist advertisements. Where Protein World thrives on controversy, NAT’s latest campaign shows that if companies don’t have a thorough understanding of who their audience is, they could be at risk of alienating them.

Brands need to ensure that they’re careful and don’t risk losing their foothold with their existing customers, yet still appeal to potential new customers. Through regular customer engagement and strong relationships with current consumers, NAT could have ensured that it had a firm grip on its target market without having to rely on the age-old myth that ‘sex sells’.

We don’t know about you NAT, but we tend to wear clothes when using any form of public transport, but maybe that’s just us?

rebecca-h

@Peppertweets

@Rebecca_Jane91