Michael O'Leary: The ASA are a 'bunch of complete idiots'

He hasn't earned the nickname 'O'Really?' for nothing. The controversial Ryanair boss has defied a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority banning the use of sexy pictures in ads for the airline's charity calendar.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The Ryanair calendar ads have drawn criticism from the public for featuring scantily-clad flight staff in suggestive poses with taglines including: ‘Red hot fares & crew’. But when asked if he will continue to run the advertising at a press conference, O’Leary replied: ‘absolutely’.

The ASA banned the ads after receiving 17 complaints but CEO Michael O’Leary has made it clear he has no intention of toning down the raunchiness of the calendar’s advertising campaign. ‘I don't know how else we can sell a charity calendar unless we advertise a photograph of what's in the charity calendar,’ he stated.

The Ryanair boss even admitted sending the ASA images of similarly undressed girls from women's magazines Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Vogue when contesting the decision. ‘You better ban all those too,’ he said. ‘There’s a girl there in her knickers advertising perfume, a girl in her knickers advertising boots, and a girl in her knickers advertising pots and pans...’

He also went so far as to thank the ASA for creating so much hype around the calendar. ‘They have done more to generate pre-publicity for our 2013 calendar than even photographs of me stripping off into my swimwear,’ he pointed out, adding, ‘I think it serves to confirm yet again what a bunch of complete idiots the ASA are.’

It’s not as though the Ryanair calendar itself has been free from controversy either. Since it was first published back in December, there have been over 8,000 complaints registered about the images. But O'Leary is, of course, unrepentant. ‘We look forward to rolling out the 2013 calendar sometime around the end of October this year,’ he confirmed.

As for obeying the ASA ruling on saucy ads for the calendar – no chance. ‘We will be running ads next year featuring exclusive snaps from the 2013 charity calendar,’ declared O’Leary. ‘We will run them in newspapers and newspapers will be happy to take them.’

You have to admire the man’s gumption...

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