Ryanair scores PR hit with ad outrage

What may have been intended to be a cheeky ad has made its way into the headlines in what - giving the Ryanair PR team the benefit of the doubt - is some clever manipulation of the situation. The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) received 13 complaints that the advert depicting an adult in schoolgirl's clothing was sexually suggestive in an inappropriate manner and - most likely for being held to account if they ran the ad rather than agreeing with the ASA or wanting to turn away the revenue - several papers refused to run it.
The ASA ruled that the advert breached s2.2 Social Responsibility and s5.1 Decency parts of the non broadcast advertising code

While the intent of the advert may not have been to be suggestive in an inappropriate manner - though the company can't realistically argue that the thought wouldn't have crossed its collective mind - the handling of the fallout has secured Ryanair primetime TV spots and front pages. Had they accepted the ASA's findings, withdrawn the ad and apologised then there might have been some comment but the fact that they openly taunted the ASA with their response that accused the ASA of being a "bunch of unelected self-appointed dimwits are clearly incapable of fairly and impartially ruling on advertising" ensured the story got picked up as news and has now hit the headlines.

While all of this may not have been deliberate the exposure Ryanair has got is priceless - if one were to go a step further one could even say that the decision to run the ad was linked more to the Britney association than to the inappropriate sexualisation of schoolgirls - given Britney's media exposure that association would also ensure the ad leveraged from the linkage.

A vox pop on one of this evening's news programmes summed up the reality of the situation - "what has it got to do with aeroplanes"


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