In the latest example of an advertising campaign igniting a social media firestorm, a bus company has halted an advertising campaign intended to appeal to “the younger generations.”
Black-and-white photographs of naked men and women holding a sign reading “Ride Me All Day for £3” appeared on the back of New Adventure Travel (NAT) buses in Wales. When the ads hit the Internet, the company faced serious criticism.
A Member of Parliament took to Twitter to ask the company, “Please can you explain how your advert is in any way appropriate?” while others called the campaign “terrible marketing” and “a great ad to ensure” that consumers will not ride the buses.
In addition to announcing that it would end the ad campaign, NAT also apologized, explaining that it was trying “to make catching the bus attractive to the younger generations.”
The “ride me” slogan “whilst being a little tongue in cheek was in no way intended to cause offence to either men or women and, if the advert has done so then we apologise unreservedly,” the company stated. “There has certainly been no intention to objectify either men or women. Given the volume of negativity received we have decided to remove the pictures from the back of the buses within the next twenty four hours.”
Why It Matters: For marketers, an ad campaign making waves on social media can prove immensely profitable, or as in the case of the NAT ad snafu and other examples—like Bud Light’s label statement backlash or Samsung’s promotion of a selfie taken by David Ortiz with President Barack Obama—could lead to negative publicity for the company.