‘Insensitive and offensive’ Ryanair ad in breach of advertising standards

‘Insensitive And Offensive’ Ryanair Ad In Breach Of Advertising Standards ‘Insensitive And Offensive’ Ryanair Ad In Breach Of Advertising Standards
Some 59 complaints were made to the ASAI regarding 'misleading' advertising from Ryanair.
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Sarah Mooney

An advertisement for airline Ryanair has been found to breach advertising standards, according to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

The latest complaints bulletin from the self-regulatory organisation for the Irish advertising industry shows that “misleading” ads run on television, radio and social media accounts included ones from Ryanair, Nestle and Tesco.

The Independent Complaints Committee of the ASAI found that six out of seven advertisements it investigated were in breach of the organisation's code.

Some 59 complaints were made to the organisation regarding “misleading” advertising from Ryanair’s “Vax and Go” commercial.

Most upheld complaints challenged if the advertising had the potential to mislead consumers, considering there was no guarantee that they would be able to travel to the destinations referenced in the advertising by Easter 2021.


The ASAI also upheld that the advertising was “irresponsible, insensitive and offensive and trivialised the effects which the pandemic was having on society and in particular frontline workers.”


It furthermore upheld complaints that questioned whether the advertisement conflicted with public health guidelines, which had the potential to change, and whether it would be safe to travel at the time referenced in the advertising.

However, the ASAI did not uphold complaints that suggested the advertisement was in breach of ASAI code by advertising prescription medicines to the public.

The airline has been ordered not to run the advertisetment in its current format again.

Tesco Ireland was also found to have advertised a misleading promotion, after a complainant noted that an offer was promoted as being for the bank holiday weekend, but were told that the offer was over when visiting their local store on the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend.

Other complaints upheld included one regarding a “misleading” Nestle Nutrition advertisement which referred to the “transfer of antibodies” and the “forging of neural pathways” as examples of the effect a baby had on the mother.

The advertisers said they did not claim that their formula milk reproduced those effects; instead, they said that “these examples of unwavering care had inspired them.”


ASAI chief executive Orla Twomey said the latest complaints bulletin illustrated the organisation’s ability to handle complaints across a variety of platforms.

“The main role of advertising self-regulatory organisations (SROs), such as the ASAI, is to ensure that ads and other marketing communications are legal, truthful, decent and honest, prepared with a sense of social responsibility to the consumer and society and with proper respect for the principles of fair competition,” she said.

The Complaints Committee is an independent arm of the ASAI and is responsible for considering and adjudicating on complaints submitted by the public or an organisation.

The ASAI conducts ongoing monitoring of advertising across all media and has examined over 27,000 advertisements since 2007, with an overall compliance rate of 98 per cent.

The organisation is financed by the advertising industry.

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