In a new watch commercial, a pilot and an airhostess are seen making out in the cockpit of a plane, while it is mid-air. Starring cricketer Virat Kohli and actor Genelia D’ Souza, the racy ad has come under flak from pilots and airhostesses who feel it shows them in bad light. “It’s not funny to show that we don’t take our jobs seriously. That too, a job with so many lives at risk,” says Mohit Singh*, 27, a pilot with Jet Airways, lashing out against the Fastrack ad. “The ad agencies should not ruin our reputation. People use such ads to spread gossip about us,” says Malini Sinha*, 24, an airhostess with Go Air. “Being glamorous is important in our profession, but people think we are easy because of such media portrayal,” says Neha Banga*, 25, an airhostess with Jet Lite.
It’s not just in India. Last year, the Flight Attendants Association Secretary of Australia protested against the portrayal of airhostesses as sex symbols, saying it put attendants at risk of sexual harassment. Adman Prahlad Kakkar feels the ad may be too risque. “Frankly, a majority of our society is not ready for such ads,” he says. However, the creators of the ad feel it’s all in good fun. “It is a light, flirtatious interlude. It doesn’t put down anyone from the aviation sector or any other profession,” says Simeran Bhasin, marketing head, Fastrack. “The ad is not meant to be taken seriously. We are not saying these things really happen,” says Arun Iyer, national creative director, Lowe Lintas, the agency that made the ad. When contacted, Virat and Genelia were not available for comment.
*Some names have been changed on request.