Two TV spots for Ryanair that declared “Covid vaccines are coming, so book your Easter and summer holidays today with Ryanair” have become the third most complained about ads of all time.
The Advertising Standards Authority fast-tracked an investigation after 2370 viewers wrote in to say they trivialised pandemic restrictions, were irresponsible, and misleadingly implied that vaccination was happening so quickly that we would all be free to travel by the spring.
Only Paddy Power’s Oscar Pistorius gaff (5,525) and Booking.com’s encouragement of bad language (2,451) — both in 2014 — have prompted more complaints to the ASA.
Ryanair protested that it didn’t make any specific claims and that travel restrictions really might be lifted soonish, quoting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s boosterish pronouncements in its defence.
Astonishingly the scripts were approved by Clearcast just after the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine had been cleared for use last November. Looks like everyone got swept up in the hopeful message that 2021 might be a better year.
The ads, by Dublin agency The Tenth Man, encouraged customers to “jab and go,” and promoted sunshine destinations Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, “and many more.” ASA’s final ruling cleared the ads of harm and offence, but declared them irresponsible and banned them for that reason.