Ryanair in trouble for sexy ads

Ads for the airline featuring women in their underwear have been banned by the ASA on the grounds that they could 'cause offence'.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 01 Nov 2012
Poor Michael O’Leary. Call MT soft, but it’s convinced that all this getting into trouble with various governing bodies (the Office of Fair Trading; pilots’ unions; all passengers, ever) is a cry for help. What happened, we wonder? Did he have a hard time at school? Did he see his kitten run over? Was a favourite toy given away?  

Whatever it was, it’s not surprising news that the Ryanair CEO is in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority, this time for a newspaper ad campaign which the ASA said was ‘likely to cause offence’. The ad in question featured women posing in their scanties with the headline ‘Red Hot Fares & Crew!!!’ (which, complaints aside, is blatantly misleading – the crew are almost certainly as chilly as the passengers in Ryanair’s over-air conditioned cabins). The ASA added that it linked ‘female cabin crew with sexually suggestive behaviour’.

The ads were promoting the airline’s (equally contentious) charity calendar, taking images directly from it. Ryanair’s defence was that ‘because similar images of women and men often featured in the same media, the ads could not be deemed offensive or unsuitable for public display’. Although, to be fair, we’ve yet to see a picture of a man in a bra and pants featured in an ad in a national newspaper. So we’re not sure that argument’s entirely valid…

The good news is that, with profits of €15m (£12.6m) in 2011, the airline should now be able to afford to hire a marketing agency which can come up with an ad campaign slightly more nuanced than simply ladies in their grundies. Although, knowing its exalted leader, he’ll find some way to charge us for looking at the ads. You've got to give it to him: however attention-seeking he may be, you can’t deny that he has an uncanny ability to see dollar signs where ordinary people don’t…

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