Vietnamese Airline ‘VietJet’ Defends ‘Overly Sexualized’ Marketing Campaign

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VietJet’s 2018 calendar has gone viral online causing quite a stir in Southeast Asia. It has been criticized for objectifying the image of flight attendants; however, the aviation company doesn’t want to give it up.

VietJet has defended its 2018 calendar, which features heavily made up girls posing in skimpy bikinis in and around the company’s aircraft.

It was released at a time when the debate around sexual harassment and in-flight assaults of both passengers and employees is growing by the day.

Critics have said that VietJet’s marketing, including the calendar and the bikini fashion shows on board the planes, presented an archaic and sexist image of cabin crew.

​The company also released a YouTube video of the controversial photo shoot which further caused an online storm in Vietnam. It was viewed more than 914,000 times since first appearing at the end of last month.

 

Despite all the debate and noise surrounding the calendar, VietJet Aviation said on Thursday that it was standing by its controversial marketing campaign.

VietJet, founded by Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao – Vietnam’s first female billionaire, said the calendar emphasized that people were free to wear whatever they wanted.

“We are not upset when people associate us with the bikini image. If that makes people delighted and happy, then we’ll be happy,” Luu Duc Khanh, VietJet’s managing director, said in emailed comments to Reuters.

When asked about the views of Thao, Khanh said the CEO thought people “have the right to wear whatever they like, bikini or traditional ao dai,” referring to the traditional Vietnamese long dress.

Critics, however, did not buy the whole ‘freedom’ narrative, with some saying that VietJet is “taking us back 50 years by hyper-sexualising a female dominated work group in order to make a few bucks off a couple of cheesy calendars,” according to Heather Poole, a veteran US flight attendant and author.

“Women have to work so hard to be taken seriously, and in this case it’s a woman in charge taking us back to the days of ‘Coffee, Tea or Me?’,” Poole added, referring to a 1960s book about two fictitious female flight attendants that objectified their sexuality.