Saturday, January 20, 2007

Singapore Girl ads on the way out?

We've all seen the ads -- "Singapore Girl — You're a great way to fly" -- but according to a Reuters article published in USA Today and elsewhere, those ads may be discontinued soon. The article says that "Despite her success, critics complain the Singapore Girl concept is sexist, outmoded and largely intended to serve male passengers' fantasies of desirable, subservient Oriental women."

Gee, ya think??

Apparently looking for a change, Singapore Airlines is asking advertising agencies other than Batey Ads, which has handled the account since 1972, to submit bids for a new campaign. The outcome could change things for the Singapore Girl ads.

Here's an excerpt from the Reuters article:
Recent adverts for Singapore Air feature the airline's ultra-modern aircraft, updated seats or inflight food. But the perfectly groomed Singapore Girl still features prominently, gently covering a sleeping passenger or offering meals.

Former flight attendants reject the sexism charge and many take pride in a profession that lost much of its glamour since air travel became an everyday phenomenon.

An ex-Singapore Girl who asked to be identified only as Nancy said the airline should hold on to the campaign and not "put their crew into dull business suits".

"When I put on the uniform, I represented Singapore, not just the airline. It made me so proud and we would get a lot of positive feedback," she said.

Nine out of ten of the female cabin crew are Singaporean or Malaysian, while the remainder are hired from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan for language skills.

They follow strict rules, down to the way they wear long hair — never loose — and the colour of nail varnish or lipstick.

Ironically, the Southeast Asian airline relied on white European men — advertising mastermind Ian Batey and French designer Pierre Balmain — to come up with the idea of the graceful Asian girl in a batik uniform, known as sarong kebaya.
Hmm, that doesn't strike me as ironic at all!

The Reuters article quoted a spokesman for the airline who denied that the review of its ad agency could necessarily put an end to the Singapore Girl. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.