Singapore Airlines to continue using grid girls at Grand Prix races after F1 stops practice

Grid girls before the start of the race of the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on 21 September 2014. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Grid girls before the start of the race of the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on 21 September 2014. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will continue to feature its iconic cabin crew as grid girls in this year’s edition of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, despite the global race organiser saying that the practice is outdated.

SIA said on Thursday (6 September) in response to queries from Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore, “Our cabin crew are brand ambassadors for Singapore Airlines and will continue to play an integral role in the upcoming Formula 1 2018 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.”

Formula 1’s iconic grid girls were models deployed to mark out each racer’s spot on the grid at the beginning of each race. The decision to stop the practice came after American company Liberty Media bought ownership of F1 in 2017 and instituted a review of the sport.

Formula One managing director of commercial operations, Sean Bratches, said in January, “While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern-day societal norms. We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

Communications and branding professionals told Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore that the Singapore Girl remains a prestigious brand.

Dean Shams, a communication strategist at public relations agency KinetiqBuzz, said “Liberty Media sees the grid girl as a form of sexism since they typically exude a sexual persona with their scantily clad outfits. Rightfully, they want to be seen as a progressive brand. SIA, and Singapore, on the other hand, see Singapore Girls as a local icon. In that respect, they seem like a good fit to represent Singapore’s brand of uniqueness and hospitality.”

Emeric Lau, a consultant with branding agency Immortal Singapore, said that there was no harm in SIA continuing to feature their cabin crew at the races for now, but the Singapore Girl as an icon “may need review through an updated, contemporary lens”.

“One possibility is to have both grid boys and girls,” Lau added.

Separately, organisers of a “sugar babies” themed party during the Singapore Grand Prix have pulled the event from a line-up of Formula One events due to the controversial nature of the sponsor Sugarbook, a dating platform catering to “sugar daddies”.

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