As women, we know it isn’t terribly safe to walk home alone at night, and that taking a licensed cab may be a good idea. But we really don’t need an ad to show us the horrific things that could potentially happen if we opt to walk.
At least that’s how angry Londoners felt after receiving promotional postcards featuring the image at left. Many felt that the ads, distributed by London cab company Data Cars, insinuated that if women don’t take a cab home at night, they run the risk of being assaulted.
Angry comments left on the company’s Twitter page and several complaints filed with the Advertising Standards Authority and Transport for London stated that the way the clearly-distressed woman appears to be carrying her clothes (which are wrapped around her arm like a makeshift bandage), coupled with the bruise-like shadowing on her body, suggest that she has been assaulted, possibly raped.
Katie Russell from the charity, Rape Crisis, called the postcard:
“…a really unfortunate and misguided piece of advertising. The best case scenario, giving the company the benefit of the doubt, is that they’re not aware of the associations that the image on this postcard conjures. The worst case scenario is that they’ve knowingly used scare-mongering, sexist and victim-blaming imagery and messaging in a cynical marketing ploy.”
Meanwhile, Data Cars manager Les Chapman defended his company’s ad:
“The way we viewed the image, it is simply a girl who has gone out on a hot summer evening and the predicable British weather has opened the heavens and she got soaking wet…This is something we see every year and this year we decided to place an advertising campaign with this in mind.”
It’s clear that whatever the company’s intentions, the image was bound to conjure the associations that it did — whether those behind the ad really didn’t consider the possible perceptions is anybody’s guess, but we agree that at best the ad is insensitive and poorly thought-through, and at worst knowingly suggestive of violence. What do you think, readers?