Advert takes a bite off restaurant’s reputation

The advert sparked outrage on social media with some terming the promotions as a cheap publicity stunt. (Source: social media)
Updated 18 October 2018

Advert takes a bite off restaurant’s reputation

  • Eatery issues apology after promotion for new sandwich backfires
  • Social media users slam attempt, terming it as insensitive in the wake of the #MeToo movement

KARACHI: Pakistan’s food aficionados were up in arms on Thursday over a restaurant’s advertisement which they deemed as insensitive and akin to promoting “sexual harassment at the workplace”.

Apologizing for the incident, the Karachi-based eatery said it had only intended to distribute free sandwiches as part of its promotional campaign which had asked people if they were “craving to grab something big and juicy at work”, adding that it was “coming soon to your work place”.

“We in our wildest dream never thought about such connotations and reactions,” Faraz, an official of Slamvich, told Arab News, adding that the company had decided to apologize nevertheless “for not considering this kind of sensitivities”.

The advert sparked outrage on social media with some terming the promotions as a cheap publicity stunt. “It was an attempt to attract attention and they have succeeded in their effort. It's a cheap way of advertising your products and it also shows how shallow we have become that we have to create sex appeal even in food advertisements,” Zeeshan Jafery, a marketing and PR professional, told Arab News.

“What a sick, horrible and pathetic post by Slamvich. Please make sure your humor is on point and not hideous,” Shahjahan Khurram, a journalist, tweeted.

Drawing comparisons with the ongoing #MeToo movement – whereby sexual assault victims are going public with their stories – others said that the advert was in poor taste, as it encouraged sexual harassment at the workplace.

“This hits home. I have a #MeToo story that triggered based on this ad. I mean my heart sank and my hand became cold just looking at this  idiocy about women being objectified…that hurt knowing what happened,” Noor Jehan Arif, a Digital Transformation and BPR consultant, tweeted.

A few others deemed it insensitive, accusing the company of mocking an issue that victims were already struggling to promote awareness about. “Thus to make light of an issue which people are already struggling to raise awareness about is not just insensitive but also counterproductive,” Naila Ilyas, a homemaker, said on the company’s Facebook page in response to the advert.

However, Slamvich employee Faraz reasoned that the advertisement was taken out of context, adding that the restaurant has women employees, too, and that it was a “matter of shame for us that it has been perceived that way”.

“We wanted to send around 25 sandwiches to offices as part of our campaign to improve our delivery system… but [the message] was construed as [promoting] workplace harassment,” Faraz said, adding that any further “debate on this issue should stop now”.  

Replacing the advert with a “We apologize” artwork, a statement issued by the restaurant on its Facebook page read: “The Slamvich team would like to apologize for the earlier post. We, by no means, intended to offend anyone. We believe in an equal, unified and liberal Pakistan. Apologies once again, we have taken actions that such mishaps are not repeated.”

Begging to differ with the sentiments of the majority, a few customers said there was nothing wrong with the campaign. “No need to apologize. Nothing is wrong with the post. How did equality and liberalism come in food?” Mohammad Meer, a student from Karachi, posted on Slamvich’s Facebook page.

Pakistan has enforced strict laws in this regard with sexual harassment against women in public spaces considered a criminal offence. Violators may face a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to Rs500,000.

Urging for better quality checks to be in place, Rasheed Channa, Spokesman of Sindh Chief Minister, told Arab News that the provincial government would take notice of such advertisements. “Government does not check the advertisement because it is the job of the private sector and the releasing agencies should ensure implementation of ethical standards,” he said.


Qantas urges rapper will.i.am to withdraw racism accusation against staffer

Updated 18 November 2019

Qantas urges rapper will.i.am to withdraw racism accusation against staffer

  • Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am said on Twitter he was racially targeted by a Qantas airline attendant
  • Qantas, which called the incident a ‘misunderstanding,’ has requested the rapper to retract his statement

MELBOURNE: Australia’s flagship airline, Qantas, said on Monday it stood ready to offer legal assistance to a member of its flight crew named in a racism accusation by Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am on social media.
The US singer had taken a flight about 1-1/2-hours long to Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, from northeastern Brisbane to play at a concert on Saturday, but was met by Australian federal police at the arrival gate.
He said on Twitter he was racially targeted by an airline attendant, whom he identified by name, after failing to put away his laptop as the flight prepared to land, because he had put on noise-canceling headphones to “make beats.”
Qantas, which called the incident a “misunderstanding,” has requested the rapper to retract his statement.
“Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” a spokesman told Reuters in a statement.
Police confirmed they spoke to crew and passengers at the airport, but said no further action was required. “The Australian Federal Police considers this matter finalized,” they said in a statement.
On Saturday, will.i.am said in a post on Twitter, “Is calling the police on a passenger for not hearing (the) P.A. due to wearing noise-canceling headphones appropriate?”
He added, “If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted.”
As of Monday, will.i.am had not made any retraction on social media, even as other commenters pointed out that the crew member he identified had received threats on social media as a result.
He pointed out that if he were rude to a fan or journalist, he would be publicly named.
“This is what Twitter is for...we are supposed to call out wrongdoings so we can have a safer, more compassionate world,” will.i.am said.
Reuters was not able to contact the rapper through his agency, and he did not immediately respond to a request for comment on social media.