A private hire firm’s advert featuring a middle aged overweight woman with the caption ‘if I start to look sexy, book a taxi’ has been slammed as sexist.
West Quay Cars in Southampton said they had put up the controversial poster as part of their festive campaign to stop people drinking and driving and to take a cab instead.
But feminist campaigners said the advert, which features the voluptuous lady in a suggestive pose next to the warning ‘don’t make bad decisions because you have had one too many’ was sexist and are urging a boycott of the company.
One campaigner, who wished to remain unnamed, told the Daily Mail: “I was horrified to see the recent posters by West Quay Cars which featured a middle-aged larger woman with a slogan on it.
“It is supposed to encourage people not to drink and drive but it looked like they were telling people not to make bad decisions by going with a woman who looks like this.
“It is disgusting that in 2015 sexism is still alive; people should not be making a profit over negative self-body image.”
A picture of the advert was posted to the University of Southampton Feminist Society’s Facebook page where it was slammed as ‘disgusting’ and ‘terrible.’
Campaigners also took to Twitter to complain about the poster.
But bosses at West Quay Cars, who designed the pos-ters themselves, said they were disappointed with the negative feedback and denied the company is sexist.
They distributed 166 to pubs and clubs across Southampton as part of a festive campaign.
The company said they received 16 complaints about the posters on January 1 - more than six weeks after they went on display.
Manager Lee Haynes said there had been no complaints about the male version of the poster which showed a man with a moustache dressed in ‘70s style disco clothes and open-chested shirt with the same slogan.
Mr Haynes said: “We are disappointed that our annual anti-drink drive campaign for 2014 has generated some negative feedback. We apologise for any offence that may have been caused by either of the posters.
“We recognised that the campaign may be controversial, but in our opinion, our obligation to try to reduce the amount of lives devastated by drink or drug drivers was overriding.
“We refute the claim that either our advertising or West Quay Cars as a company is sexist or discriminatory in anyway.
“Of the 22 staff employed with the company, 16 are female and we have a diverse range of ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation within that group.”
Before the campaign was launched, the firm canvassed 603 people and received only five complaints on the female poster and four complaints on the male poster.
Mr Haynes added: “We accept that we cannot please everyone all of the time. It is an accepted practice that annual drink drive campaigns organised by the emergency services are designed to shock.
“But no matter how displeasing the images, the message has to be delivered to eradicate deaths and injuries caused by drink driving.”