Ryanair seeks presidential pardon

Another day, another offensive Ryanair advert. But this time the airline has its tail between its legs...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his significant other Carla Bruni are suing Ryanair over an advert that appeared in French newspaper Le Parisien last week. It featured a picture of the pair above an advert for 100,000 cut-price tickets, with a thought bubble linked to Bruni saying: ‘With Ryanair, all my family can attend my wedding.’ Naturally, they didn’t consent to this, and aren’t terribly happy about their images being taken in vain.

Although Monsieur Le President is seeking a symbolic €1 in damages, Bruni is demanding €500,000 – apparently the going rate to use the former supermodel’s image in an advertising campaign (somehow we’d doubt they’d have given Air France the same treatment, but c’est la vie).

We’re used to seeing Ryanair fight this kind of case tooth and nail, if only to get a bit of free publicity before they settle. However, this time they’re being surprisingly penitent. The airline said it had apologised ‘immediately and sincerely’ for any offence caused, protesting that the ad was merely ‘an honest attempt by Ryanair to reflect humorously and positively on this very public and publicised relationship’. It’s offered to settle Sarkozy’s claim immediately and donate €5,000 to a charity of each of their choices.

That doesn’t sound like the Ryanair we know and love, we hear you say… Well don’t worry – the only airline that could start a fight in an empty room isn’t rolling over completely. The belligerent carrier has drawn the line at Bruni’s ‘totally unjustified’ attempt to shake it down for half a million euros, saying it would ‘vigorously oppose her ludicrous claims’. After all, Bruni has ‘engaged in an open, widely publicised and internationally reported relationship with President Sarkozy’, and she didn’t object to any of the other photographs that have appeared in newspapers recently. So really, ignoring a flagrant breach of copyright is the least she can do.

Now we’re no legal experts, but we’re guessing they might find it hard to make that argument stand up in court. Particularly when one of the plaintiffs is the head of state. This could turn out to be a very expensive promotion...

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