Ryanair has called for all Easter and summer holiday ads to be banned after being forced to ditch its controversial “Jab & Go” campaign following an investigation by the ad watchdog triggered by more than 1,600 consumer complaints.
The campaign broke on Boxing Day and offered customers flights to various European destinations 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.”
Another execution featured a small bottle labelled “vaccine” and a syringe, and stated: “Covid vaccines are coming so book your Easter and summer holidays today with Ryanair. Vax & Go.”
Within days, the Advertising Standards Authority said it would be launching an official investigation into the ads after being inundated with hundreds of complaints. On Twitter, users branded the activity “grotesque”, “crass”, “sick”, and “an abomination”.
The ASA said that complainants 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 upheld the complaints, saying it was “likely that consumers would interpret the phrase ‘Vax & Go’/‘Jab and Go’ as an unequivocal endorsement of vaccinating and travelling unconditionally.”
In response, the airline said it “respectfully disagrees” with the decision, claiming the ad is factual and accurate, and claims the ruling means all advertising by airlines, tour operators and travel agents for Easter or summer holidays should also be banned.
A Ryanair 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.”
‘Crass’ Ryanair Jab & Go ad fuels mass ASA complaints
Ad for ‘Covid safe’ London cabs full of porky pies, guv
Ryanair chief Kenny Jacobs bails out for new horizons
Ryanair turns to St Ives firm for marketing platform
Coronavirus-themed ads strike a chord with consumers
Crisis-hit consumers more willing to try out new brands
Boom or bust: Online winners and losers of Covid-19
Covid-19 Britain: Bakers, creators, musos and DIYers