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H.I.S. cancels travel with 'beautiful girls' campaign after complaints

75 Comments

Major travel agency H.I.S. Travel has cancelled a campaign offering overseas-bound Japanese travellers the opportunity to be accompanied by "beautiful girls from the University of of Tokyo (Todai)."

H.I.S. pulled the campaign on Wednesday, only 12 hours after it was launched, following complaints on its website and Twitter account that the campaign was sexual harassment, Sankei Shimbun reported Thursday.

The controversial campaign said that five college student models appearing in the popular biannual book "Todai bijo zukan" (Pictorial Guide to the Beautiful Girls of Todai) would be available to sit next to customers, chosen by lottery, throughout their flight to an overseas destination.

According to H.I.S, the five winners would be able to choose one out of five “Beautiful Girls” from the prestigious university to sit next to them. In addition to accompanying the travellers to their destination, the girls would also offer commentary on various tourist attractions, as well as oversee the homework of the children of the travellers, if necessary.

The campaign was scheduled to be held in July and August and the travel costs of the students would be covered by H.I.S.

In an attempt at damage control, H.I.S explained, “The concept behind the campaign was to introduce a fresh and innovative inflight experience.”

However, the campaign backfired, receiving harsh criticism online. One commenter said: “If customers are hoping to gain travel knowledge, is it necessary for them to travel with a female college student?” Another said: “Foreign passengers traveling on the same flight may interpret the situation in a strange manner.”

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People often talk about having day time savings and the like here. Sometimes I think Japan needs to put the clock forward 300-400 years.

30 ( +41 / -11 )

“The concept behind the campaign was to introduce a fresh and innovative in flight experience.”

Nothing fresh or innovative about treating women and girls as objects.

“Foreign passengers traveling on the same flight may interpret the situation in a strange manner.”

"this may make Japan look bad" isn't the primary reason why this sort of behavior is unacceptable

16 ( +25 / -9 )

Free publicity! Mission successful.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

Really sad that even after entering Japan's most prestigious academic institution, women are still most valued as eye candy.

18 ( +27 / -9 )

“Foreign passengers traveling on the same flight may interpret the situation in a strange manner.”

What about the Japanese passengers who may have interpreted this campaign as creepy behaviour? I shudder to think about the potential mid-flight incidents, with the slack-jawed, drooling 40-year-old-virgins gagging to win this competition!

12 ( +16 / -4 )

These girls worked hard to get into Todai to end up in a "beauty magazine" ? I like looking at beautiful girls, but I think we need to stop the silly practice of contesting girls based on their physical attractiveness, including those idiotic contests that ask the girls questions about "world problems"! Because seriously, what sorts of idiot thought that to solve "world problems", we should hold beauty contest.

7 ( +10 / -4 )

Japanese society misogyny at work.

On top of that, what kind of person with a normal functioning brain would have such a dumb idea?

9 ( +17 / -8 )

Omg! I am a loss for words. How cheesy!

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Sexual harassment? I don't think so! Female exploitation would be closer. However, it just another form of Japanese escorts like the "uhum" gentlemen's clubs.

11 ( +18 / -7 )

This is just bad... I mean did the sexual revolution really bypass Japan? I know Japan can be grossly misogynistic at times, but this is a new level of low - a pretty uni student to sit next to you on a plane? Considering that most Japanese passengers I've seen whip out a face mask and eye-shades about half an hour into the flight the person sitting next to them could be Shrek and it wouldn't make any difference.

Sexist, daft, stupid idea... but hey, that's Japan :D

6 ( +12 / -6 )

as well as oversee the homework of the children of the travellers, if necessary.

Love the 'if necessary', haha! The worrying thing is that having a uni mag celebrating hotties is now accepted, only 'exploiting' those hotties is still 'a bit' taboo. For how long?

Have to admit the story itself made me smile but i understand that what's truly behind is more worrying. J deviants are in a league of their own no question!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

H.I.S.=Highest International Sexism.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

What kind of sick twisted brain comes up with this exploitative idea. Man, this us really gross and the "girls" agreed? Sad commentary on them as well.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Did anyone stop to think the girls actually volunteer to do this? They're not forced to do it. They want to make some money. Stop putting the blame on the men. Also, girls will always be viewed primarily as sex objects in Japan; they're raised that way. I would hate to have a daughter in this country.

11 ( +19 / -8 )

A bit like otakus queuing around the block to shake hands with an AKB chick.

It believed that all connected with Todai is clever and reputable. But t(HIS) is just disreputable and daft.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Take a trip with us and have 'a young woman' on us. Oh what a mountain Japan has to climb in modernizing attitudes towards women.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The concept behind the campaign was to introduce a fresh and innovative inflight experience

You mean to get fresh and innovative with a college girl, don't you?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Hope they are traveling somewhere safe

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Oh no, these poor girls. Being paid to sit next to someone? What sick exploitation!

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

However, the campaign backfired, receiving harsh criticism online. One commenter said: “If customers are hoping to gain travel knowledge, is it necessary for them to travel with a female college student?”

I'd wager the average Todai student has more knowledge of places outside Japan and foreign languages than the average Japanese traveler has.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I like looking at beautiful girls, but I think we need to stop the silly practice of contesting girls based on their physical attractiveness, including those idiotic contests that ask the girls questions about "world problems"!

Then they need to stop participating. It's an easy route to modelling or acting jobs, and so we have the Miss America and Miss Universe pageants, and evidently a Todai Bijou contest as well. Watch them disappear overnight if not one woman signed up.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I shudder to think about the potential mid-flight incidents, with the slack-jawed, drooling 40-year-old-virgins gagging to win this competition!

For those guys, perhaps some innovative travel company will offer them the chance to travel with a nice Osaka lady, just to keep them out of trouble.

http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/abudora0808/GALLERY/show_image.html?id=40834763&no=6

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is pretty standard for any fan club in Japan, surprised people complained about this and not knew about the fanclubs.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Guys who pay for this deserve butt whooping.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

It's skeezy as allgetout, but if a travel company wants to basically auction off willing travel companions, I don't have much of a problem with them being allowed to do it.

But this cowardly business of pretending the fact that they're from Japan's most prestigious university matters when all the campaign really cares about is that they won a beauty contest, that's some weak tea. You want to be one of these superficial guys who treats women like objects? At least have the honesty to admit that's what you're into.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Kibousha:

" I like looking at beautiful girls, but I think we need to stop the silly practice of contesting girls based on their physical attractiveness, "

You want to live in a world where nobody is interested in physical beauty? What kind of bleak society would that be?

" including those idiotic contests that ask the girls questions about "world problems"! Because seriously, what sorts of idiot thought that to solve "world problems", we should hold beauty contest. "

Im am scratching my head where that came from? The article said nothing about "world problems". It is a simply campaign gimmic by H.I-S., and successful, afaics.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Wow, that's taking the whole customer service thing to an entirely new level. Not surprising though in Japan.

Why isn't anyone complaining about the cute J-babes who act as hostesses on the tour buses? What, because they didn't attend Todai University?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

When I was single this would have been fun!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

You can pay and hire a lady, or two or as many as you want as far as you can afford the bill, in Japan. Actually, in most Asian countries.

They are paid for sitting next to the customer and listening, and sometimes nodding and smiling. It's like hiring your personal bartender to whom you have exclusive right to talk during the time paid.

Let's say, if they were not forced to work in those business, would it be still an exploitation of women and sexual harassment?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Ah yes! "Yaru Pack," very popular.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

it was just a brilliant free publicity PR campaign devised by HIS PR planners. they got what they wanted, free publicity. And once the T girls arrive "overseas" with their travelling companions, will they also "oversee" night-time activities too? this campaign worked! this news will be in the international English language media, with suggestive headlines galore. a win-win, spin- spin situation.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I wonder how a university may like to ba represented that way in whatever sector of the market... What is the relation of an affiliation to university with beauty? I could understand a photographic or movie environment... Todai should have sued HIS for sexual harrassement and degradation of its own image and reputation.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

When I think of 'beautiful girls' I always think of twelve-year olds wearing their Aunties clothes being photographed mid-trampoline jump.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

DId HIS really approve that unbelievable "buy a ticket from us and win a female college student" campaign ?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Everything INCLUDING the girl. Now why on Earth would anyone think that was sexist?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

“The concept behind the campaign was to introduce a fresh and innovative inflight experience.”

I am seeing that concept as selling plane ticket + girl lottery for money profit.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Exploitation most certainly. Has anyone asked the university students their opinion? Is a paid overseas ticket so bad on the basis (big assumption) no strings attached?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Watch them disappear overnight if not one woman signed up.

Ooh, good point! Also, watch them disappear when all women are lucky enough to marry money, and never have to lift a finger again. Because, you know, everyone's just that lucky.

When I was single this would have been fun!

A whole lot of stuff is fun when you're single.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Once again the usual suspects who regularly terrorize this forum have blundered their inapptitude to grasp Japanese culture. Maybe the nuances of the culture are to expansive for them to successfully navigate; possibly their brains are too heavy and imprecise to grapple with the delicacies and subtleties of such knowledge and civilization. I don't know. But what ever the case may be, I see nothing wrong with beautiful specimens attending upon the needs and wishes of corporate warriors as they bravely venture for thousands of kilometers into the void of the outside world. It's the analog of downing a strong spirit before entering the field of battle; only more culturally refined. And if you're not sharp enough to get it then, your constructive criticism is in immediate danger of metamorphosing into Japan bashing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Mike L, brilliant! Made me properly giggle that did

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Stupid idea but aren't the five girls just as stupid for agreeing to take part?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

“Todai bijo zukan” (Pictorial Guide to the Beautiful Girls of Todai) would be available to sit next to customers

. . . . then what? Go to the lavatory and become part of the "Mile High Club?"

0 ( +3 / -3 )

These are Tokyo University girls, they are the smartest of the smart. They would no do anything stupid. Why is everyone trying to paint them as bimboos for earning money, travelling free, helping inform people? Oh and they are pretty? That make it all wrong? So if they are ugly, that is alright? What sexism!! And totally gay Gokai really feels sorry for the girls.

3 ( +5 / -3 )

I don't get the uproar over this. The only thing bad about this marketing idea is that they do not also have five Todai men included. Why is it that five educated women from the most elite university in Japan are not able to make choices for themselves? Must everything be politically correct? Let people do what they want to do. Live and let live. It's as if we have returned to Victorian days where women must be protected from themselves.

H.I.S. pulled the campaign on Wednesday, only 12 hours after it was launched, following complaints on its website and Twitter account that the campaign was sexual harassment

I must have missed the part where the company promised the customer they could sexually harass anyone as part of the deal.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Men like pretty girls. Color me surprised.

Honestly, it looks pathetic for the men who would want that. I imagine there are few things that would depress me more than thinking that I was so desperate for attention that I was forced to pay for it. I prefer to be alone than do that.

That being said, how is it sexism? Or sexual harassment (as the original article says)? More and more, I think accusations of sexism are just hiding puritanical sex-negative attitudes that are now viewing basic sexual interaction between men and women as inherently bad, as if everyone should be asexual agender blobs rather than actual human beings.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

These are Tokyo University girls, they are the smartest of the smart.

True. But according to custom, they're expected (eventually) to raise the children, cook, clean, plan monthly finances and give up their careers. Welcome to Japan.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@kchoze "That being said, how is it sexism?" Maybe "sexist" is more accurate. You could probably answer your own question if you think on it. Anyway, leaving that aside, how callow? These are grownups or junior high school boys? This is an actual company? That makes money? Ad it'd be more "sex-positive" without the focus on weirdo socially castrated man-boys.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Maybe I'm too idealistic, but it's disappointing to see supposedly the most intelligent young women in Japan going along with this campaign. Okay, maybe the money is good and, hey, a free holiday is a free holiday, but what about things like self-respect? You get the impression that the ladies are grabbing this because it might be about as good as its going to get for them.

Girls, be ambitious!

Whatever the thinking behind this, letting the winners pick the one they fancy in the photos (shimei) is pure mizushobai. You also get it at more salacious businesses that use women too, if you want to stretch the point.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

So, what's the difference from escort service then?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@kchoze "That being said, how is it sexism?" Maybe "sexist" is more accurate. You could probably answer your own question if you think on it. Anyway, leaving that aside, how callow? These are grownups or junior high school boys? This is an actual company? That makes money? Ad it'd be more "sex-positive" without the focus on weirdo socially castrated man-boys.

How is it sexist? I fail to see how. You might say that it perpetuates a concept that women are objects that men should strive to own, but I think that is a convenient and uncharitable misinterpretation that ignores the fact that, as human beings, we all (or nearly all) desire the companionship and attention of desirable, attractive people, preferably of the opposite gender. Men and women fantasize about this all the time, that's why romance and pornography are such big popular genres in fiction.

The desire to find a desirable mate and companion is one of the main elements of basic human nature. To denounce this desire as "problematic" seems to me as a sign of rejection and even contempt of our shared humanity. Any problem comes when this desire trumps any consideration for other people, using coercion and deception to obtain it, hurting people in that quest to satiate this desire. But that's not the case here, these women in particular were not forced to participate, they attend a prestigious university and have a good future ahead of them, I doubt anyone could claim they have been coerced or deceived into this.

It seems to me your revulsion, and that of many here, is more based on your hatred of the men who would patronize that business than anything else. As if you classify them as "creeps" and your anger comes from a sense that as "creeps" they don't deserve pretty girls' attention, even if obtained willingly for a short while for financial compensation.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

“Foreign passengers traveling on the same flight may interpret the situation in a strange manner.”

No, they wouldn't interpret it in a strange manner, they would interpret it as the strange situation it is.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

good old Japan! And once again a company didn't bother to look beyond it's own drooling decision makers to see what others might actually think.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Did anyone stop to think the girls actually volunteer to do this? They're not forced to do it. They want to make some money. Stop putting the blame on the men.

Exactly!

They are in the book and taking this gig as well. Who are we or anybody else to decide how they live their life?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And once again a company didn't bother to look beyond it's own drooling decision makers to see what others might actually think.

Agree with you smith. Japan's "kawaii culture" has a lot to do with this. They think that they can market anything & everything on cute girls. The whole using a prestigious "University" thing was the actual gimmick.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Ooh, good point! Also, watch them disappear when all women are lucky enough to marry money, and never have to lift a finger again. Because, you know, everyone's just that lucky.

So, you're in favor of beauty contests because 50 women (Miss America) get better employment opportunities once a year? Not very efficient...and what can you tell about a woman's brains by looking at her in a bathing suit and an evening gown? All the wealthy women in the world were all contestants? You've come out with some humdingers before, but you've outdone yourself this time.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I am disgusted that H.I.S Travel announced this campaign to "reward" lucky travelers with seats next to "beautiful girls." Women are not prizes, or pets, or objects. Women are not for using. While the campaign has been cancelled due to public pressure, the explanation -- that this was somehow an idea to introduce a "fresh" travel experience -- was completely lame and was not at all an apology nor does it demonstrate that H.I.S. understands why its plan was wrong. There is nothing fresh about treating women as sex objects. I demand that H.I.S. fully repudiate this campaign and discipline or fire the people involved. I want to have confidence that H.I.S. will from now on actively fight rather than practice sexism. I believe most H.I.S. workers are female so they also need to know the management respects them as human beings and that people who disrespect their co-workers so egregiously will not be allowed to continue.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I travel a lot. Men everywhere pay to have women be with them. Everywhere in the world, it is the same story. It doesn't even need to be sexual, though it often is.

And you know what is also everywhere? People, particularly women of means, are particularly outraged when its the 'good girls' who are treated as props for a man's ego, or objects of a man's desire.

This is classism at its worse.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Isn't this typical modern/old(it has never changed) Japan where they sell everything on basis of being cute or attractive. Regardless of the girls being from Todai, I would of thought those with the smarts to have much more sense.

A lottery to sit to an attractive girl, what's next, putting a special handshake ticket into CDs to have a chance of meeting your idol and drive up sales.

That meeting to approve this campaign must of been something special.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He he....such a sexist campaign!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Another said: “Foreign passengers traveling on the same flight may interpret the situation in a strange manner.”

Yep. I count this cancellation of the program as a loss for truth in advertising, and a victory for the lowest common denominator. Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us, creepers of the world.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

How on Earth did this idea get off the ground? (Excuse the pun)

It's s shame that some of the brightest minds in the country would volunteer to be part of this ridiculous campaign. You'd expect the smartest women in Japan at least to have some self respect..

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I can't believe people are still using HIS - what, with the plethora of Internet options for booking a cheap flight and hotel.

As for the girls thing, what's the big deal? In what way is it "sexual harassment?" If the girls volunteered to join this campaign, then it's their right. Nobody put a gun to their head and said, "you have to do it, or else."

If anything, it shows that there are hot girls at Todai, so if you are a hot girl, then try to be smart as well, so you can enter Todai and maybe have the chance sit for 15 hours on a flight with a stranger going to some far away place where no one can hear your cries for help.

I think the biggest problem is expecting the girl to take care of someone's kid, if necessary. These girls really don't know what they're getting themselves into with that part of the deal. You couldn't pay me enough to take care of someone's rugrat on vacation.

This campaign will also hopefully be the trigger for people to start noticing sexist campaigns and ads a bit more. Consider it a wake-up call, kind of like that AKB guy who recently wrote that song about being OK for girls to be empty-headed.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

kchoze:

" Honestly, it looks pathetic for the men who would want that. I imagine there are few things that would depress me more than thinking that I was so desperate for attention that I was forced to pay for it. "

Oh cry me a river. Are you seriously saying that money and status are irrelevant in personal interaction? Say some an unemployed high-school dropout attracts the same female interest at a party as young single Goldman Sachs associate arriving in a Mazerati? Yeah sure! Please point me to the planet where that is the case. Especially as you get older and uglier and still would like female attention --- but expect it for free.

I really wonder where these outlandish ideas about society and human psychology come from.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You could look at it from the other point of view that five female undergrads have the opportunity to have a free holiday abroad as long as they are able to endure being sat next to said 40 + year old virgin. Armed with a couple of sleeping pills, that sounds like a deal to me.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

more like : because of bored, armchair and too broke to afford travel or women people, 5 todai girls lost free vacation.

There is nothing wrong with the campaign, the girls get free travel while being a tour guide, there is nothing there about the specific requirement for passenger to be male, it specifically mentions homework help too, so personal tour guide / assistant.

1 ( +2 / -2 )

What if these girls were super excited about this job? Are these people trying to tell these strong, independent women what they can and cannot do? Sounds like a giant step backward for feminism when women aren't allowed to do a job they agree to just because some people don't like it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Amazing amount of self-righteous blather here. Has no one reading this article ever attended a trade fair or automotive show in the US or the UK? Often it is hard to see the products on display because of all the "booth babes." If you don't know what a "booth babe" is, Google it.

Has anyone ever seen an advertisement for an airline in any country where the cabin attendants were shown as frumpy middle aged ladies who look like Sunday school teachers in Iowa or process line workers in a fish gutting operation?

If the women in question are at least 20 years old, they have the right to engage in any legal occupation they so chose.

I am disgusted that H.I.S Travel announced this campaign to "reward" lucky travelers with seats next to "beautiful girls."

Right you are. Some of the travelers might well be gay and would prefer to sit next to "beautiful boys."

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Let's all be honest and just say that it was a "pretty" good idea.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Despite all the backlash particularly the ones crying "this is sexist". I have mixed views on the idea. Since it got cancelled that should speak volumes, try better next time H.I.S!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bullfighter. My guess is that most people who complained were fellow Japanese, are they self righteous, too? And who says the other things you cite aren't questionable either? Whilst this is hardly an issue to get an our high horses about, even you can see that this campaign was dreamt up by folks with a misogynist mindset so entrenched and dull headed that they didn't even realize it might be ridiculed at best.

Permit my use of hyperbole to make a point, but there are still a large number of primarily older men here (and abroad, yes!) who see the ideal woman and mate as being intelligent (good for your progeny), but primarily cute eye candy; a companion in the 1950s sense of 'not bothering your pretty little head about the serious stuff, let us men deal with that, God forbid you have an opinion, especially one that contradicts a man, no, you just make pleasantly supportive noises'. You have every right to hold such opinions in a free society, but no right minded person would believe they should be actively promoted, especially in a society were those in power also hold these opinions in the main. When will the still dormant power of the Japanese woman be allowed to be unleashed on the world if this continuous to be the case?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This campaign can make lots of money. What a pity. Guess it's the girls parents feel very happy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A sleeping college model next to me would be absolutely safe on that red-eye flight...what a great campaign idea...chat up a sweetheart for 8 or 10 hours, then maybe hook up later during my holiday..wow! what a good way to appeal to the sad and lonely 40 somethings...what about a successful lesbian businesswoman flying first class?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Stephen Deney:

" Permit my use of hyperbole to make a point, but there are still a large number of primarily older men here (and abroad, yes!) who see the ideal woman and mate as being intelligent (good for your progeny), but primarily cute eye candy; "

Oh yes, old men are attracted to good-looking females --- what a revelation, and what horrible discrimination. While the enlightened younger generation does not care about looks at all, they are just interested personality characters.

I have to tell that to my teenage sons, thank you for reminding me!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I notice only the negative comments appear here, maybe real men do not want to tell their true elation for this for great and modern innovation in traveleling, so please let me speak for them, this is the greatest idea since the airplane was invented! Yeah, just being with a younger lady for an older man can be highly gratifying, also for the girl who gains wisdom from the guy, and maybe she feels protected by a father figure that she never had or misses. This travel experience was to occur with mutual ADULT consent. Who is anybody else to worry your little big heads, you know, the people in society who walk around just looking for something to be offended at. Maybe you'll be happy if you focus on your own life!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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