A Kazakhstan-based travel company stirred controversy last week after releasing an ad spot featuring naked women posing as flight attendants. The ad for Chocotravel quickly went viral, with critics on social media calling it out for apparent sexism. The company responded to the ad's mixed reviews in a statement to International Business Times.

The ad — which was uploaded to several social media outlets that included Facebook and YouTube — prominently featured the exposed bodies of several models, who wore only caps and scarves standard to the uniforms often worn by stewardesses. Their breasts were obscured by a search bar that stretched the length of the frame while they covered their lower abdomens with their hats. A similar video was also released with nude men posing as pilots, though the latter received far less outrage. A caption on both videos promised “the service of buying air tickets without extra charges!”

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A spokesperson for Chocotravel issued a statement to IBT in response to the controversy.

“Our business is online and we believe that our customers are advanced users,” Nikolay Mazentsev, Chocotravel's ticketing service director, told IBT. “The main goal of our ad campaign was to raise awareness over significant fees on airline tickets. We did not want to offend anyone. We tried to play on the association of ticket price without markups with naked men and women, where naked = no markup. At all times pilots and stewardesses were considered to be symbols of beauty, grace and attractiveness, that is why we decided to make to commercials with males and females.”

Mazentsev said the company intended to use paid advertising to reach broader audiences with both videos but decided against it after the video managed to go viral organically after Nurken Rzaliyev, an employee of Chocotravel’s parent company Chocofamily, shared it August 3 on Facebook. Mazentsev seemed to be unphased by backlash to the video, instead noting “top international mass media wrote about the controversy it created.”

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Rzaliyev issued his own response to critics in an interview with AdWeek Friday.

“There’s definitely no sexism,” Rzaliyev said. “Opinions were divided, but attention was made to the problem of high ticket prices.”

The video posted to Rzaliyev’s Facebook page had amassed more than 21,000 views as of Wednesday afternoon. On the company’s YouTube account, the video had well over a million views and hundreds of comments.

Capture A controversial ad spot for Kazakhstan travel company Chocotravel has raised more than a few eyebrows after it featured nude models posing as flight attendants. The video surfaced in early August. Photo: Chocotravel/YouTube