Ad for Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham and Bromley minicab firm Data Cars sparks online rage over 'rape exploitation'

News Shopper: The ad campaign has sparked criticism The ad campaign has sparked criticism

WHAT do you see in this picture - a woman walking home in the rain because she hasn't booked a cab or a victim of rape?

Minicab company Data Cars delivered 200,000 postcards bearing this image to homes across the area, insisting it merely shows a woman caught out by the weather.

But, within hours of the cards hitting south east London doormats, complaints rolled in accusing the company of exploiting sex attack victims.

News Shopper: Minicab ad campaign sparks online rage over 'rape exploitation'

Outrage

The postcard publication started a frothing wave of online outrage, with angry comments on the Data Cars Twitter feed and complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority and Transport for London.

Mel Johansson complained: "What the hell is this horror that just came through my door?"

Twitter user John Traynor wrote: "Hello @datacars, just seen your ad on a postcard; is it saying: 'Pay for a cab or you might be dis-robed and beaten'?"

Others said shadows on the girl's body resembled bruising and she looked in some distress, likening it to adverts for minicab safety campaign Cabwise.

Dee Emm Elms wrote on the site: "Check the bruises on her arms. That's what bothered me. 'Use our cabs - or u gonna get RAPED!'"

Katie Russell from charity Rape Crisis said: "This is a really unfortunate and misguided piece of advertising.

"The best case scenario, giving the company the benefit of the doubt, is that they're not aware of the associations that the image on this postcard conjures.

"The worst case scenario is that they've knowingly used scare-mongering, sexist and victim-blaming imagery and messaging in a cynical marketing ploy."

News Shopper: Data Cars manager Les Chapman

Apology

Data Cars manager Les Chapman said he was inspired to run the campaign after seeing his teenage daughters coming home from a night out looking like "drowned rats".

He said: "The way we viewed the image, it is simply a girl who has gone out on a hot summer evening and the predicable British weather has opened the heavens and she got soaking wet.

"This is something we see every year and this year we decided to place an advertising campaign with this in mind."

He said the wording on the back of the postcard makes it clear: "You should look just as great coming home as you did going out, so don't gamble on the weather... get a Data Cars minicab."

But it seems not everybody has got that message.

He said: "I think in life people see everything in different ways. Most people who have looked at it, I'd say 99.5 per cent, have seen it exactly for what it is."

Mr Chapman went on: "The comments can be frustrating as we promote safety more than any other minicab company in south east London and would obviously apologise if we have offending anyone."

He said: "Data Cars have always been at the forefront with safety ideas and were the first local company to introduce drivers' ID badges way back in the 1990s as well as the first to text the vehicle details of the customer nearly 10 years ago."

Comments (20)

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10:22am Tue 13 Aug 13

Simon bald says...

people just love to be offended don't they?
people just love to be offended don't they? Simon bald
  • Score: 28

10:26am Tue 13 Aug 13

Slonik says...

Nah, the media love trying to stir up a lot of 'offence' so they can fill their rolling news airtime and web pages reporting on it all...
Nah, the media love trying to stir up a lot of 'offence' so they can fill their rolling news airtime and web pages reporting on it all... Slonik
  • Score: 14

10:51am Tue 13 Aug 13

Gypo.Joe says...

It could of been so much worse, she could of been holding a copy of the Newsshopper over her head to shelter from the rain.
Now that really would be offensive.


Joe the offended of Keston. ;)
It could of been so much worse, she could of been holding a copy of the Newsshopper over her head to shelter from the rain. Now that really would be offensive. Joe the offended of Keston. ;) Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 23

10:55am Tue 13 Aug 13

xoxsuzyq says...

I think the ad looks exactly as intended , she does nt have ripped clothes , bruising or looks stressed , she looks cold and wet ,
I think the ad looks exactly as intended , she does nt have ripped clothes , bruising or looks stressed , she looks cold and wet , xoxsuzyq
  • Score: 23

11:29am Tue 13 Aug 13

the wall says...

How many of these Twatter users got this flyer through their door or even live in the datacar area? Are they just moaning because its on the trending bandwagon?

More sheeople!
How many of these Twatter users got this flyer through their door or even live in the datacar area? Are they just moaning because its on the trending bandwagon? More sheeople! the wall
  • Score: 14

11:55am Tue 13 Aug 13

Hk says...

xoxsuzyq wrote:
I think the ad looks exactly as intended , she does nt have ripped clothes , bruising or looks stressed , she looks cold and wet ,
Her face definitely doesnt look stressed but unless its shadowing it definitely looks like there are signs of bruising on her arms. I dont know really, I can see where Data are coming from but maybe not quite the right picture!
[quote][p][bold]xoxsuzyq[/bold] wrote: I think the ad looks exactly as intended , she does nt have ripped clothes , bruising or looks stressed , she looks cold and wet ,[/p][/quote]Her face definitely doesnt look stressed but unless its shadowing it definitely looks like there are signs of bruising on her arms. I dont know really, I can see where Data are coming from but maybe not quite the right picture! Hk
  • Score: -9

1:31pm Tue 13 Aug 13

XPrincess_KissesX says...

Get a life- we all know the risks of walking the streets these days. As a young girl I think it's important to alert others to the risks which may be facing them. So many people out there who have been wrapped in cotton wool and find themselves in danger. Add may come across hard hitting but that's what seems to work these days- have you not seen anti child abuse and drug ads recently!
Get a life- we all know the risks of walking the streets these days. As a young girl I think it's important to alert others to the risks which may be facing them. So many people out there who have been wrapped in cotton wool and find themselves in danger. Add may come across hard hitting but that's what seems to work these days- have you not seen anti child abuse and drug ads recently! XPrincess_KissesX
  • Score: -7

4:03pm Tue 13 Aug 13

snookerloopy says...

Would just like to point out...... That's not bruising..... It's the shadow from her hands.....
Would just like to point out...... That's not bruising..... It's the shadow from her hands..... snookerloopy
  • Score: 10

4:51pm Tue 13 Aug 13

Simon bald says...

mmm she is all wet,mmm she is alone,mmmm it's dark,oh yes I get a glimpse of bare shoulder
mmm she is all wet,mmm she is alone,mmmm it's dark,oh yes I get a glimpse of bare shoulder Simon bald
  • Score: 6

5:27pm Tue 13 Aug 13

AJ New Eltham says...

What a load of **** data cars is the best cab firm on the market they text you everything you need to know once you have booked a car car reg time where the car is and so on. I have seen worse on seaside post cards i dont know there are some people out there who need to have their brains tested.
What a load of **** data cars is the best cab firm on the market they text you everything you need to know once you have booked a car car reg time where the car is and so on. I have seen worse on seaside post cards i dont know there are some people out there who need to have their brains tested. AJ New Eltham
  • Score: 8

5:59pm Tue 13 Aug 13

Eagles_Man says...

It must be August, the outrage industry clearly has some spare capacity right now.

What bruising anyway? She a girl who looks - as the guy says - like a drowned rat. Lots of extra publicity for the company though - just wait until it hits the national press.
It must be August, the outrage industry clearly has some spare capacity right now. What bruising anyway? She a girl who looks - as the guy says - like a drowned rat. Lots of extra publicity for the company though - just wait until it hits the national press. Eagles_Man
  • Score: 3

8:07pm Tue 13 Aug 13

Oldchap says...

Looks to me like she's got soaked - and her make-up has run
Looks to me like she's got soaked - and her make-up has run Oldchap
  • Score: 5

9:07pm Tue 13 Aug 13

molsey says...

For their original cost for 200,000 postcards Data Cars have now had a right result.
For their original cost for 200,000 postcards Data Cars have now had a right result. molsey
  • Score: 6

11:45am Wed 14 Aug 13

Thamesmead1991 says...

Think The Data Cars Ad has been blown completely out of proportion. Some people make a big deal out of advertising and how it offends others. I have seen alot worse!!
Think The Data Cars Ad has been blown completely out of proportion. Some people make a big deal out of advertising and how it offends others. I have seen alot worse!! Thamesmead1991
  • Score: 6

5:07pm Wed 14 Aug 13

Lil_Miss_L says...

This is just sensationalism ... I don't get 'rape victim' at all ....... It's just a c*ap picture!
This is just sensationalism ... I don't get 'rape victim' at all ....... It's just a c*ap picture! Lil_Miss_L
  • Score: 2

6:28pm Wed 14 Aug 13

ghost2013 says...

looks like someone walking home in the rain to me... But if it did look like the girl had been attacked in what ever way. i would show my 16 year old. if scaring them makes them think twice then be it. Sadly girls/woman probably have been attacked walking home late at night. and by sharing the story that it can happen may save someone being attacked.
looks like someone walking home in the rain to me... But if it did look like the girl had been attacked in what ever way. i would show my 16 year old. if scaring them makes them think twice then be it. Sadly girls/woman probably have been attacked walking home late at night. and by sharing the story that it can happen may save someone being attacked. ghost2013
  • Score: 2

4:24pm Thu 15 Aug 13

rogerthat says...

It seems a lot of people have completely misunderstood or misinterpreted the advertising campaign. I have often been mistaken myself so I know this can easily happen.

However, it is clear in this case that Mr Chapman has been misquoted and I for one do not believe that he has ever raped his daughters after a night out (or otherwise). He has probably never drowned rats either.
It seems a lot of people have completely misunderstood or misinterpreted the advertising campaign. I have often been mistaken myself so I know this can easily happen. However, it is clear in this case that Mr Chapman has been misquoted and I for one do not believe that he has ever raped his daughters after a night out (or otherwise). He has probably never drowned rats either. rogerthat
  • Score: 1

9:56pm Thu 15 Aug 13

Marty1979 says...

Politically correct brigade again

And perhaps the interpretation of rape is not so bad, obviously the photo is of an actress, so warning people to get a licenced cab could be a good thing

There was a TV campaign which showed a girl getting into a car, then her obviously having been attacked

No demands for it to be removed
Politically correct brigade again And perhaps the interpretation of rape is not so bad, obviously the photo is of an actress, so warning people to get a licenced cab could be a good thing There was a TV campaign which showed a girl getting into a car, then her obviously having been attacked No demands for it to be removed Marty1979
  • Score: 2

9:16pm Fri 16 Aug 13

R_U_Serious says...

My first impression of the photo is of a young lady with an injured left arm. I guess that's part of her dress but she looks in pain, not just soaked to the skin.
As for Data Cars, my daughters both regularly use them, as do I from time to time, and their service is excellent.
My first impression of the photo is of a young lady with an injured left arm. I guess that's part of her dress but she looks in pain, not just soaked to the skin. As for Data Cars, my daughters both regularly use them, as do I from time to time, and their service is excellent. R_U_Serious
  • Score: 2

3:48pm Sun 18 Aug 13

Ebba Nolan says...

Whilst I think the cab company could have used a better image for their "drowned rat" it should be pointed out that the people identifying this as "an image of a woman who has been raped" are a part of the rape crisis and rape culture.

This is apparently what a rape victim should look like; she must have her clothes rumpled, she must be beaten and crying and she must be small and frightened - not to mention it was her own fault for not checking the cab she was in was licensed!

If Rape Crisis and other associated awareness campaigns and charities are going to kick up a fuss about something like this then they could at least use the publicity to point out that all and any images of women can depict someone who has been raped - strong, motherly, beautiful, average, clothed, unclothed, dressed appropriately, young, old, your best friend, sporty, nerdy, ANY OF THEM! As many as 1 in 3 women are raped, more than half are sexually assaulted and just about all of them are sexually harassed at some point in their lives.

There is a much bigger issue here that needs to be addressed - not just a couple of people being offended because a "distressing imaged" has been posted through their letterbox by a mini-cab company.
Whilst I think the cab company could have used a better image for their "drowned rat" it should be pointed out that the people identifying this as "an image of a woman who has been raped" are a part of the rape crisis and rape culture. This is apparently what a rape victim should look like; she must have her clothes rumpled, she must be beaten and crying and she must be small and frightened - not to mention it was her own fault for not checking the cab she was in was licensed! If Rape Crisis and other associated awareness campaigns and charities are going to kick up a fuss about something like this then they could at least use the publicity to point out that all and any images of women can depict someone who has been raped - strong, motherly, beautiful, average, clothed, unclothed, dressed appropriately, young, old, your best friend, sporty, nerdy, ANY OF THEM! As many as 1 in 3 women are raped, more than half are sexually assaulted and just about all of them are sexually harassed at some point in their lives. There is a much bigger issue here that needs to be addressed - not just a couple of people being offended because a "distressing imaged" has been posted through their letterbox by a mini-cab company. Ebba Nolan
  • Score: 2

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