AirAsia has been criticised for a marketing campaign that some have dubbed a “message to sex tourists”.
The airline promoted its new Brisbane-Bangkok flights with the slogan “Get off in Thailand”, which was plastered on billboards and buses across the Australian city.
The risqué tagline garnered numerous complaints to Brisbane City Council.
“We know that 250,000 western men go to Thailand for sex tourism each year,” Melinda Liszewski, a spokesperson for anti-objectification group Collective Shout, told 9News.
She added that the adverts were “a direct message to sex tourists”.
The council denied responsibility for displaying the adverts, blaming the guidelines set by the Advertising Standards Bureau.
AirAsia has since apologised for the campaign.
— Coralie Alison (@CoralieAlison)March 25, 2019
The budget airline said the adverts were targeted at the two-thirds of Australian passengers who fly with them and connect to other destinations – the campaign aimed to promote Bangkok as a final destination instead.
It was coordinated with the launch of a new Brisbane-Bangkok service that started on 7 February.
“We take community feedback extremely seriously and sincerely apologise for the concerns raised,” AirAsia said in a statement.
“AirAsia confirms the campaign has since ended and our media partners have had the last of these advertisements removed.”
It’s not the first time a questionable tourism slogan has caused controversy.
Darwin City Council voted to ban products adorned with “CU in the NT”, the unofficial slogan of the Northern Territory in Australia, from being sold at local markets earlier this month.
The group behind the unofficial campaign, NT Unofficial, launched the slogan in 2016 with the tagline: “The Top End. Different from the bottom end.”
The campaign, to promote awareness of the Australian state, soon went viral.
As well as promoting the Northern Territory via its website and social media, the group sells a wide range of merchandise emblazoned with the slogan, including t-shirts, flip-flops and hats.