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Is it time for Ryanair to hire an ad agency to keep boss O’Leary out of trouble?

There was a time when Ryanair CEO Michael O’ Leary added to sum of human amusement (mostly) with his vapourings, some of which were funny and others mostly harmless.

This perception was aided by the undeniable success of the airline (despite its penchant for dropping passengers off in a field miles away from their destination or even, occasionally, another country).

But whereas fellow airline tycoon Sir Richard Branson has learned the merits of shutting up some of the time at least, O’Leary has become worse and his latest grovelling apology to Easyjet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou for likening him to Pinocchio in an ad (which looks like it’s been knocked together on the kitchen table, like all Ryanair’s ads) just makes him and his airline look amateurish and silly.

O’Leary has just been thwarted yet again by the Irish government in his bid to buy Aer Lingus. And the reason is not about money or the conviction that Aer Lingus’ management is better than Ryanair, it’s more likely to be that you can’t have a national carrier run by a maniac like this.

It would actually help Ryanair, its shareholders and ultimately its customers if it got itself a proper advertising agency that would not just produce ads that looked semi-professional but also proffer advice to O’Leary from time to time, with a view to preventing him looking like a prat.

Or it could just get rid of him, of course.

By the way, did you know that O’Leary began his professional life as an accountant? There’s one for the stereotypes file.

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Michael O'Leary pinocchio ad ryanair Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou

About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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