Ryanair has been hit by a major backlash over its new “Jab & Go” ad campaign, with the ad watchdog confirming it has already received more than 1,600 objections about the activity, making it one of the most complained about ads of all time.
The campaign broke on Boxing Day on TV, as well as on digital channels, offering customers flights to various European destinations between April and October if they were purchased by January 3.
A voiceover stated: “Vaccines are coming, so book your Easter and summer holidays today with Ryanair. One million seats on sale for €19.99 to sunshine destinations in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and many more – so you can jab and go.”
However, within minutes of it airing, social media was awash with outrage, with tweets branding the ad “grotesque”, “crass”, “sick”, “a new low” and “an abomination”.
According to the Advertising Standards Authority, complainants have objected that the ad, “misleadingly suggests that the vaccine will have been successfully rolled out across the population by spring/summer and that travel restrictions won’t apply by then” and that it is “offensive and irresponsible because it trivialises the effect of the pandemic on individuals and society”.
The watchdog has also confirmed it has now launched a formal investigation and will publish its findings in due course.
Paddy Power currently holds the dubious honour of having the most complained about advertisement in history, receiving 5,525 gripes, as well an online petition of nearly 127,000 signatures, for its ad featuring former Paralympian Oscar Pistorius.
The ad centred around the athlete’s 2014 trial, in which he was accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. It featured Pistorius mocked up as an Academy Award statue and promoted a “money back if he walks” offer for bets on the outcome of the hearing.
Banning the ad for being “likely to cause serious and widespread offence”, at the time, the regulator said: “Given the content of the ad, and the prevailing circumstances at the time of its publication, we concluded that it brought advertising into disrepute.”
The second most complained about ad of all time is currently a 2005 spot for KFC that featured call centre workers talking with their mouths full of chicken. It received 1,671 objections but was given the all-clear by the watchdog.
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