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Ryanair has harassed the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) with a provocative « jab and go » ad that drew thousands of complaints from viewers.

First launched online and on television screens from Boxing Day, the untimely campaign coincided with the imposition of mandatory travel restrictions across much of the country, with international travel once again anchored.

Ryanair in hot water

  • The unfortunate ad saw Ryanair portray a small bottle labeled ‘vaccine’ next to a syringe in a not-too-subtle attempt to inject some optimism into an anxious audience ahead of the Easter holidays.

  • Contrary to official government advice, the voiceover of the ad sang, « Covid vaccines are coming, so book your Easter and summer vacation today with Ryanair. »

  • He continued: “1 million seats on sale from £ 19.99 to sun destinations in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and many more, so you can jump in and go.

  • This message also contradicts Ryanair’s policy of not asking passengers for proof of vaccination when using its services.

And then?

  • Far from drawing a line below the subject, the room stirred a hornet’s nest, with the ASA receiving around 1,600 complaints and counting.

  • The majority of complainants say the campaign « incorrectly suggests that the vaccine will have been successfully deployed in the population by spring / summer, and that travel restrictions will not apply by then. »

  • Others are outraged by the apparent trivialization of the pandemic and its considerable impact on individuals and society.

  • Ryanair is no stranger to the turbulence after being the target of a succession of reprimands and reprimands from the ASA over the years – most notably a 2018 campaign in which a man was pictured asleep on the beach next to an empty liquor bottle. The slogan was: « Book on Ryanair.com between ‘study’ tonight. It could be you. « 

  • More recently, Ryanair has been accused of emitting too much hot air by bragging about having the lowest emissions of any European airline and displaying promotional prices that were not available.

  • Trying to direct the narrative on Covid is a risky strategy at the best of times, but it is particularly difficult at a time when the ASA is cracking down on a wave of fake coronavirus treatment announcements that have forced the organization to devote more resources to this area.

  • The ASA is currently reviewing the case and will rule on the matter « in due course ».

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