Lukas B.sent in an advertisement from the February 2010 Hemisphere magazine (the in-flight United Airlines mag). The ad is for ANA airlines’ flights to Japan. The target of the ad appears to be business travelers, represented by a White man. And how to show what a great job the airline will do of taking care of you? Surround said male business traveler with ten Japanese women, there to serve and pamper him:

The ad seems to rely to some degree on the stereotype of the submissive Asian woman, or more specifically, the geisha — a Japanese woman trained in the art of serving and pleasing men. There are many ways ANA could advertise, and even lots of ways they could represent good service.The fact that this ad deals with flights to Japan makes a particular racialized idea of service and comfort useful to the company.

At the same time, I’m fascinated by the fact that there are presumably potential customers to whom the idea of being waited on hand and foot while flying would be a major selling point (as opposed to, say, more comfortable seats or tastier food or something).

And, as Lukas points out, they also make sure to throw in the obligatory blossoms that are required in advertising/images related to China or Japan.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.