When advertising your business on TV, it’s worth remembering it’s not always such a great idea to make yourself the face of that brand – no matter how much you rate that particular face.

Sir Richard Branson is one such person who should be banned from appearing in his own commercials because clearly, he’s having a mid-air, mid-life crisis!

His latest commercial advertising V Australia flights to Los Angeles is the typical sort of sexist rubbish that we’re used to seeing from this man, where he can’t land in a country without paying girls in bikini’s to fall all over him at the other end.

How on earth is this relevant to society or how we view women in 2009?

You’ve got to give him air miles, however, given he’s supposed to be a married man with two children and daughter Holly is the same age as daddy’s “media girlfriends”.

But he recently racks up points for brilliantly finding the ultimate “I’m not a sleaze-bag loophole” as he gropes his way around the world, all in the name of launching another product.

Basically, if you haven’t seen V Australia’s new “Fly Girls” commercial, I’m not saying it’s the most offensive things he’s ever put out there by any means.  But I am saying there’s this boring, out dated thread of using women to sell a product that “both” sexes buy – the way it used to be done in the good old days a few decades ago.

So let me take you through it.

The opening shot follows two female “stewards”, subtly finishing on their bottoms, then pans to the cabin which is filled with more gorgeous, 20 something model types, who move like they’re in a burlesque show.

Their major focus seems to be putting on more make up and popping open the champagne.

Not quite sure where all the blokes have gone.  Perhaps Sir Richard pushed them out the emergency exit?

So one must wonder why it is that Sir Richard seems only interested in targeting men in his marketing drives.  Has someone not informed him that we women are his loyal customers as well?

And as for the constantly casting yourself in the role of leading man, Sir Richard, I hate to break the news to you but you’re about as sexy as those socks you get on an international flight!

There’s a fine line between presenting yourself as a young , fun company versus brushing off the old 1970s template for selling products, which would almost always involve wheeling in a “hot looking bird”.

It was so predictable back then.  Woman sells cigarettes, woman looks like she’s about to do a Monica Lewinsky.  Woman sells flavoured milk, woman gets so turned on she totally misses her mouth.

So who does this old man really think he’s attracting to this airline when his entire marketing campaign is based around using women as sex objects to put bums on seats?  His signature yawn-of-a move on the red carpet is heading for he most beautiful or famous, young lady and scooping her up as if she’s incapacitated.

Has someone not told him that it’s actually fashionable these days for a woman to stand on her own two feet, and that not all of us are looking for some old married bloke to sweep us off our feet, unless we give him the nod?

I’m not trying to get all Germaine Greer on anyone, as I actually love flying Virgin, and think Sir Richard is of course an absolute genius.  But there are ways of launching products without hiring “chicks” in bikini’s to giggle around you.

I’m happy for him to drop out of a helicopter on to Bondi Beach to get attention and all of that other stuff, but for goodness sake have some respect for the 50 per cent of your customers who happen to be female and aren’t stuck in the 70’s wearing croqueted bathers, buying Chiko rolls for their boyfriends.   Thanks Dicko!


  1. Amber, I remember commenting on this article whist you were at SAFM. And I believe old Dickky sent you a response, which I totally agreed with. Sex sells. Smart men, and even SMARTER WOMEN (who can stand up on their own two feet) know this. So who’s being exploited here??? Is the glass half full or half empty?

    Ask the women who appeared in those ads whether they felt exploited, because every adult, male or female, has the unequivocal right, to make their own judgement call.

    Richard would have been surrounded by great PR and advertising people, so in a sense he’d only be the messenger. And we all know what we shouldn’t do with messengers.

    Personally, I loved the advertising campaign because it was “tongue in cheek”, not politically correct and above all else FUN. And not once did I feel that the women were being exploited. Great girls having fun. And did it make me want to fly with Virgin?? You bet!

    Damn, another successful marketing campaign exploiting the weakness of men. Where do I lodge a complaint . . . .

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