Customers Aren't Happy About a Vietnamese Airline's Bikini Calendar
Vietnamese airline company VietJet Aviation faced criticism when it released a branded calendar featuring female models in bikinis. The calendar, which the company releases annually, is part of a marketing campaign to grow the relatively small company's market share and compete against the larger Vietnam Airlines.
Critics, however, say this year's calendar "overly sexualizes the image of flight attendants and other airline staff," according to Reuters.
VietJet founder Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who is Vietnam's first female billionaire, said the calendar supported people's choices to wear whatever they wanted.
"We are not upset when people associate us with the bikini image," Luu Duc Khanh, VietJet's managing director, told Reuters. "If that makes people delighted and happy, then we'll be happy."
A company spokesperson told The Sun that customers have always enjoyed the calendar, and that it serves as a valuable marketing tool.
"Not only displaying their gorgeous looks, the models posed in different cabin crew and staff roles to showcase the airline's high-quality service and friendly staff," the spokesperson said.
One U.S. flight attendant, named Heather Poole, commented that the calendar and VietJet are "taking us back 50 years by hyper-sexualizing a female dominated work group in order to make a few bucks off a couple of cheesy calendars.
"Women have to work so hard to be taken seriously," she continued. "And in this case, it's a woman in charge taking us back to the days of 'Coffee, Tea or Me.'"
According to The Sun, the airline's association with the bikini calendars earned it the nickname "Bikini Airline" shortly after its 2011 launch. The next year, the company garnered criticism after five flight attendants wearing bikinis took part in a mid-flight dance routine, acting as beauty pageant contestants.
Other companies that have released similar products have taken steps to make the promotional item more palatable for a wider audience. Italian tire company Pirelli has changed up the format of its annual calendar to focus less on nudity.
For the future of VietJet's calendar, the future could be more gender-balanced rather than less risqué, as Khanh told Reuters that male models would be "a good idea for us to introduce in our calendars next year."