The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a controversial holiday TV campaign from low-cost European airline Ryanair, now the third-most complained about campaign ever.
The campaign, known as “jab and go”, was designed to advertise the airline’s Boxing Day deals, encouraging consumers to book their Easter and summer holidays so they can get vaccinated for COVID-19 and start their travels.
It was rolled out on TV in the UK just weeks after the first COVID-19 jab was administered.
“COVID vaccines are coming, so book your Easter and summer holidays today with Ryanair,” the ad said, despite the government imposing mandatory travel curbs across England.
“One million seats on sale from £19.99 to sunshine destinations in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and many more, so you could jab and go.”
However, the campaign did not have the desired effect and instead stirred 2,370 complaints to the ASA, with some saying it was misleading, others that it was trivialising of ongoing restrictions and others that it was irresponsible.
Ryanair said the assertions made in the ads were not out of touch with UK government goals and that the ads were designed to be “uplifting and encouraged viewers to consider a brighter future when restrictions were lifted and people could go on holiday with friends and family again”.
Additionally, Ryanair told the ASA that the ads “showed people holidaying within their social bubble, and said that there were no requirements that holidaymakers be shown wearing face masks or social distancing”.
Following an investigation, the ASA ruled the ads broke the UK’s ad regulations relating to misleading and irresponsible advertising.
“We, therefore, considered some viewers were likely to infer that by Easter and summer 2021 it would be possible for anyone to get vaccinated in order to go on a booked holiday, that maximal protection could be achieved immediately through one dose of the vaccine, and that restrictions around social distancing and mask-wearing would not be necessary once individuals were vaccinated,” the ASA said.
“We considered this could encourage vaccinated individuals to disregard or lessen their adherence to restrictions which, in the short term, could expose them to the risk of serious illness, and in the longer term, might result in them spreading the virus. As such, we considered the ads could encourage people to behave irresponsibly once vaccinated. The ads must not be broadcast again.”
This isn’t the first time Ryanair has landed itself in hot water with the UK’s advertising watchdog, after a 2019 ad claiming Ryanair was Europe’s “lowest emissions airline” was labelled “misleading” and in breach of several regulations by ASA.
Featured image source: YouTube/Another World