Taxi Firm Slammed For ‘Sexist’ Ad Campaign

Photo: Clay Banks
A taxi firm has come under fire for a "sexist" marketing campaign that "fat-shames" and "age-shames" older women. The offending advert, for Bristol-based firm CityFox, features a photo of an older, plus-sized woman with her finger in her mouth, and the slogan “If I start to look sexy book a taxi. Don’t make bad decisions because you’ve had one too many". The posters, which have been seen around Bristol, seem to be targeting drunk men and urge them to call the taxi firm if they find the woman attractive, the Bristol Post reported. CityFox has so far refused to apologise for "using humour" in its campaign, which it claims carries a serious message about staying safe when drinking. However, the female-run campaign group Bristol Women's Voice (BWV) criticised the company for reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes. “We are appalled to see this advert being used by CityFox taxis. 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," said Penny Gane, the group’s chair. She said it was "unacceptable" for companies to use "derogatory and sexist images, especially when targeting younger audiences". She added: "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,” reported The Guardian.
CityFox also released a poster featuring a man with a protruding belly, who appears to be younger than the woman, wearing a vest and holding a beer. The same slogan accompanies his image. CityFox Group has since withdrawn both adverts but flyers featuring the female model could still be found around Bristol on Tuesday, the Bristol Post reported. Sophie Palmer, marketing and communications manager at CityFox Group, defended the posters' intentions, saying they aimed "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." She added: "However, it would never be our intention to cause embarrassment or offence, and as such we have withdrawn the campaign," The Guardian reported. This isn't the first time that a taxi company has come under fire in this way. West Quay Cars, a Southampton-based car company, used the exact same image of a woman in 2015 with the slogan: "If I Start To Look Sexy – Book A Taxi.” Southampton University’s Feminist Society called on fellow students to boycott the firm, saying it was evidence that "sexism is alive and well in Southampton".

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