This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA. You can browse the full series of 100 stories in numerical order, by theme or by decade.
The UK advertising regulator the Advertising Standards Authority has recently banned two adverts for Philadelphia cheese and Volkswagen because they breached new advertising rules on gender stereotypes.
Under new rules introduced this year “Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.”
What would the Advertising Standards Authority of today made of this BA advert from 1996?
The advert depicts a mother holding a baby, but with the face of an older businessman superimposed over the baby’s face. The text of the advert reads “The new Club World cradle seat. Lullaby not included.”
Many female passengers at the time wrote to the airline to complain it was demeaning to cabin crew.
BA has been far from alone in this regard. There are things Virgin has done in the past that look absolutely cringeworthy today. It can be said with confidence that if this advert was run today the airline would be in teeth of a social media storm.