The Association of Flight Attendants plans to write a letter of protest, according to an executive of the 49,000-member union. A spokesman for the Air Transport Association blasted the ad as "irresponsible."
But eYada President-CEO Bob Meyrowitz said the company stands behind the ad. "It's a joke," he said. "It's funny. What we're talking about is honest talk, saying things we all think. And who amongst us hasn't sat in an airplane wondering, `What's the purpose of this?' "
The print ad is one of three executions in a new campaign from TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, that seeks to portray subjects that provoke a common reaction in people but rarely prompt them to voice their thoughts.
With the tagline "Honest talk at eYada.com," the message is that eYada's "talk show" hosts and commentators tell it like is. That's not much of a surprise to those familiar with the service, which counts Johnny Rotten of the 1970s punk-rock group the Sex Pistols among its show hosts.
In the controversial ad, a flight attendant demonstrates how to fasten a seat belt. But a text-filled bubble above her head reveals what she is really thinking: "Like this is going to do you any good."
"It actually undermines aviation safety in that you're almost telling the passengers that they don't need to wear a seat belt," said Candace Kolander, the Association of Flights Attendants' coordinator of air safety and health. "There are situations like in-flight turbulence where seat belts have helped passengers and stopped them from being injured."
A spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the trade group representing individual airlines, said: "This is an example of irresponsible advertising. Everyone knows seat belts save lives."
PUTTING THOUGHTS INTO WORDS
The other two ads continue the theme. In one, bewildered surgeons stare down at a patient. Their thought: "Oops." In the other, three towel-clad men are engaged in conversation in a sauna; the bubble above one reads, "Man. You could cut the sexual tension in here with a knife."
"It's all meant to be stuff that sometimes goes through all of our minds that we don't say," Mr. Meyrowitz said. "Seeing someone saying it makes it funny."
The campaign is running in Time Inc. publications such as Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated. It is also running in out-of-home media in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
This isn't the first time an eYada campaign has come under fire; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals criticized an ad last year that featured a dead chicken.