Ryanair rapped over 'misleading' Covid adverts

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Ryanair planesImage source, Reuters

Ryanair has been told to remove "irresponsible" adverts depicting misleading claims about coronavirus vaccinations.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it got 2,370 complaints - the third highest ever received for an advert.

They encouraged people to book holidays with Ryanair after having vaccinations, suggesting consumers could "Jab & Go".

The airline has stopped the adverts, but said it disagreed with the rulings.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) looked into three issues after getting the complaints about adverts in late December and early January. Two of the issues were upheld, but a third, that Ryanair trivialised lockdown restrictions, was not.

A number of complainants felt that the Jab & Go adverts implied that most of the UK population would be successfully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the spring or summer this year and would be able to go on holiday.

On this point, the ASA concluded that the adverts were misleading.

The watchdog said that, given the complexity and fast-changing situation, it was "important that advertisers were cautious when linking developments in the UK's response to the pandemic to specific timeframes around which life might return to some level of normality, particularly when linking it to how confident consumers could be when making purchasing decisions".


The ASA also rapped Ryanair after people complained that the adverts were irresponsible.

However, complaints that the adverts trivialised the impact of the pandemic on society and were offensive were not in breach of the advertising code, the ASA said.

"Whilst we acknowledged that many viewers had found the tone of the ads distasteful we considered they were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence," it concluded.

The ASA said the Ryanair adverts had, in general, "over-claimed on this occasion".

It said: "The ads misleadingly provided consumers with a reassurance that being vaccinated against Covid-19 was likely to allow them to go on holiday without restrictions.

Media caption,

Coronavirus: How to fly during a global pandemic (this video reflects the rules before the hotel quarantine was introduced in the UK)

'Baseless' complaints

"It's important that all travel companies take particular care, at a time of significant uncertainty about when lockdown restrictions will end, not to mislead or over exaggerate when it will be possible for people to go on holiday," the regulator said.

Although the ASA did not publish its findings until Wednesday, Ryanair pulled the adverts last week. In a sign the airline was expecting the ASA to rule against it, Ryanair said last week it "disagrees" with the complainants.

On Wednesday, an airline spokesperson said: "The ASA's ruling flies in the face of the UK's successful vaccine rollout, however even though this ruling is baseless, Ryanair will comply with it and the Jab & Go adverts will not run again."