Petrol giant Shell is removing life-size cardboard cutouts of a female Shell employee, after people started posting photos of them performing lewd acts to the cutout.
The promotional standee, placed in Shell petrol stations in Muslim-majority Malaysia, features a female employee wearing a black head scarf and the Shell uniform.
They were placed next to petrol pumps in more than 950 Shell stations in the Southeast Asian country.
The cutouts read: “Pandai awak pilih! Sekarang semua bahan api Shell ada DynaFlex, tau!” (Translation: Smart choice! All Shell’s fuel now contains DynaFlex!)
In viral images, men are seen kissing and groping the cutout.
The standees are of 25-year-old Nor Shafila Khairusalleh, a Shell station manager who became a viral sensation in November last year, when she was spotted on cutouts marketing bottled water:
Shell stated that it found the actions of the men “disrespectful,” “distasteful” and “suggestive,” urging Malaysians not to share the images.
“We do not condone this disrespectful act, which is completely against the culture of Malaysians and Shell’s core values,” the company said in a statement sent to the press.
“They may just be joking, but I feel ashamed because that is still [me].”
Nor Shafila told Malay-language news portal mStar that while she did expect people taking amusing photos with the cutouts, pictures of men groping and kissing her went overboard.
“If little things like covering the eyes, pinching the nose, or [hugs] I can still accept…but if it is towards harassment or [if it is too] sexual, I feel that is too far,” she told mStar. “They may just be joking, but I feel ashamed because that is still [me].”
One of the men who was pictured kissing the cutout has since apologised, adding that he had only meant to send the picture out “as a joke.”
“I let the excitement get the better of me,” he said. “I…wish to apologise to her husband and family members over this incident.”
“If there is a need to meet up with Nor Shafila and talk to her, I will do so,” he added.