Cathay Pacific ad campaign grounded by sexy staff pics

The airline has had to delay an ad campaign bearing a rather unfortunate slogan after two of its staff were photographed in, er, 'compromising positions'...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 15 Aug 2011
In an incident which will surely bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘cockpit’, Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific says it may be forced to delay (or even scrap) a new marketing campaign, after two of its employees were photographed in what its spokespeople delicately described as ‘compromising positions’ on the flight deck of one of its aircraft.

What’s awkward about the situation is not necessarily that the photographs, as CEO John Slosar, ‘recklessly soil the reputation of our company’ (not to mention the upholstery). But rather that the airline was poised to launch a new marketing campaign in September bearing the now-unfortunate tagline, ‘meet the team who go the extra mile to make you feel special’. Ooo-err.

The airline has taken great pains to point out that the pilot and flight attendant in question are no longer working for the company, and that there’s ‘no evidence’ that the plane was in flight at the time (although who’d pass up that opportunity to join the mile high club…?). But its marketing people obviously thought it would be safer to delay the beginning of the ad campaign, merely saying ‘the timing doesn’t suit us at the moment’. A ‘management source’ was more, ahem, explicit: ‘The scope for the slogan and the campaign to be misinterpreted, or ridiculed and lampooned, in light of the cockpit incident, is obvious’, he/she/it told Hong Kong paper the Sunday Morning Post. Which is to put it lightly…

Cathay says it suspects foul play from one of its competitors designed to cause a scandal: the pilot in question has reportedly said the photos were ‘stolen’ from his laptop. The way things have turned out, though, it might have been better if they had never been on the laptop in the first place…

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