New Adventure, Timeless Insult

Dec 16, 2015

It’s been a few weeks now since the New Adventure Bus Travel ‘Ride Me All Day’ incident. There was quite a big reaction at the time: public outcry, hashtag frenzy, dozens of complaints to Media Standards. But the storm has died down, and that’s a pity, because quite honestly I’m still offended, and I wonder if dozens more of us should be.
Let’s remind ourselves what happened. A bus company in Wales decided to run an advertising campaign featuring topless males and females holding boards with the notice, ‘Ride me all day for £3,’ and something deep within the public conscience said No. This ‘No’ resounded with people on many levels: use of naked female and male bodies to advertise a public service; a price tag placed on human bodies; the figure on that price tag; the implication that these models were selling sex, and the corollary that this was somehow okay, passable, a humorous, meaningless, innocent PR exercise.

Reflecting on it now, what saddens me most is the fact that it took a price tag so low to offend people that human beings could be sold so cheap. It took £3, no more, to wake the public up to misgivings about putting people out to tender. And while I’m glad that the public did wake up, I’m concerned that in the general run of things, people simply don’t care that much. There were dozens, but not hundreds, of complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency. Chances are programmes like Channel 4’s ‘High Class Call Girls’ didn’t upset anyone. We see, we shrug, we carry on.
And all the while there’s this overlooked unexplored passive acceptance that it is inevitable women and men sell their bodies for sex, that somewhere somehow there’s an ‘appropriate’ fee for sexual services. I say overlooked and unexplored, but there was of course a chain of explicit approval of the New Adventure advert by people at decision making level: through concept, pitching the concept, team approval, higher approval, signing off on the advertising budget, approval from printers, approval from bus team, implicit approval from bus drivers and riders… Maybe not hundreds, but certainly dozens of people endorsed this and gave it their approval.
Thankfully the campaign was cancelled and the adverts axed. But those actors deserve an apology. They’re worth more than £3 and a busload of strangers. Come to think of it, so is the bus service. How much more so, those women who are exploited through prostitution.
Posted by Beyond The Streets on 19/06/2015 at 10:17 AM