Chocotravel, a travel company based in Kazakhstan, courted controversy when it released a video featuring a group of nude air stewards as part of their advertising campaign, thereby inviting several mixed reactions across social media.
The 31-second video clip, which has received over 1,70,000 views on YouTube over the past three days, aims to promote flights on a travel website. The clip begins with a close-up shot of female flight attendants from the neck upwards wearing caps. The shot then widens to reveal more with the private parts of the women being hidden by a banner across the screen and a small hat.
The advertisement drew ire of several on social media with many describing it as "tasteless", "unpleasant", "disgusting" and "cheap". However, it was also lauded by many users describing the advertisement as "great", "excellent" and "travel date coolest".
A user asked on Facebook: "What if it was your mother or little sister in the ads. How would you feel?" Another user replied to the comment saying that the travel company had hit rock bottom. A third user was so upset with the comments posted my men who liked the advertisement that she wrote: "I want to leave this planet!"
A male version of the advertisement was also posted on Facebook the next day with the same script and format. It showed male flight attendants wearing hats and ties with their private parts being protected by a banner across the screen and a hat.
Nikolay Mazensev, the director of Choctravel Ticketing Service, responded to the criticism through a post on Facebook saying that the advertisement was not meant to offend anyone.
"The video is bold and shocking, but we did not want to hurt anyone's feelings, and regret it if it happened. The advertisement shows exactly as much as you can see on any beach or in the pool. You do not attack girls in short skirts and people in swimsuits?" Mazensev said.
He added: "There's no sexism in advertising, and there are girls, and guys, there's a second video with guys... Let's be consistent. Beautiful girls, gorgeous boys, thank them for bravery. By the way, everyone was dressed on the set. Also, I want to thank the people who liked our move."
Nurken Rzaliyev, who works at the umbrella organisation Chocofamily, shared both videos on Facebook, rejecting the idea that they are sexist. He said: "There's definitely no sexism. Opinions were divided, but attention was made to the problem of high ticket prices."
Both the videos received mixed reactions from the public on social media.
A user said that the company "should be ashamed" of themselves while another called it "dumb". Another Facebook user described the advertisement as old-fashioned and sexist and said that the travel company's reputation had "hit an all time low". Another user wrote: "Be sure to advertise everything with female bodies? Advertising is shit and vulgar."
"It's great! Keep up the good work. And you do not have to pay attention to the envy. On the net, it will explode like hot cakes. And who does not like gadgets, can look at the pilots," wrote another user, praising the advertisement.
Critics also pointed out how the videos conform to gender roles by depicting only men as pilots while women could only be air stewards.