Ryanair battles ASA over 'saucy schoolgirl' ad
Refuses to withdraw 'offensive' image
Ryanair has locked horns with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a newspaper advert featuring a "saucy schoolgirl", the BBC reports.
The advert punting cheap flights, which appeared in the Herald, Daily Mail and Scottish Daily Mail, shows a teen temptress (right) with the strapline “Hottest back to school fares”. It attracted 13 complaints to the ASA insisting it was "offensive to show what appeared to be a schoolgirl posing and dressing provocatively and that the ad implied there were sexual connotations to the image".
According to the ASA adjudication, Ryanair "disagreed that the ad suggested sexual connotations" and further "believed it was obvious that the image was of a woman fully clothed and that the short skirt and bare midriff were representative of the type of clothing that was fashionable among young women in the UK".
Ryanair defended that it "believed the ad was likely to be found offensive only by the minority of people who were likely to find any such representation objectionable".
The ASA disagreed. It ruled that the ad "breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Social responsibility) and 5.1 (Decency)", explaining: "The ASA considered the model's clothing, which included long white socks and a tie, together with the setting of the ad in a classroom strongly suggested she was a schoolgirl. We considered that her appearance and pose, in conjunction with the heading 'HOTTEST,' appeared to link teenage girls with sexually provocative behaviour and was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence."
The three newspapers involved agreed not to print the campaign again, and the ASA concluded: "We welcomed The Herald and the Daily and Scottish Mails's assurances that they would not run the ad again. We told Ryanair to withdraw the ad and to ensure that future ads complied with the CAP Code."
Ryanir, however, has refused to comply with the ASA's ruling. The airline's head of communications, Peter Sherrard, declared: "The ASA becomes more Monty Pythonesque by the day. It is remarkable that a picture of a fully-clothed model is now claimed to cause 'serious or widespread offence', when many of the UK's leading daily newspapers regularly run pictures of topless or partially-dressed females without causing any serious or widespread offence.
"This isn't advertising regulation, it is simply censorship. This bunch of unelected self-appointed dimwits are clearly incapable of fairly and impartially ruling on advertising."
Sherrard insited Ryanair would "not be withdrawing this ad" and would "not provide the ASA with any of the undertakings they seek".
In France, meanwhile, Ryanair may face legal action over another ad, this time featuring a lovely snap of Sarko the Terrible and squeeze Carla Bruni. The offending campaign shows the couple beaming with delight under the title "Ryanair. For Every Occasion", while Ms Bruni/Mrs Sarkozy (delete according strongest current rumour) ponders: "With Ryanair, all my family can come to the wedding".
In response to the outrage, Elysée spokesman David Martinon laid it on the line to AFP, announcing: "We're looking at all the legal avenues, because this is unacceptable." ®
At all teh people offended by the add
Is this a blatant grab for publicity by Ryanair: YES
Has this been used before and will it be used again: YES
Are the "offended" folks providing free publicity for those guys: Definitely
Is the add offensive: Subjective (depending how meaningful the viewers life is)
You say you are not offended but you claim the moral high road and pick up the crusade for something this trivial?
You want to make yourself feel good about by crusading, at least pick something worth crusading for(join Big Brother/sisters or something)
I say you need to get something better to waste your time on then such trivial junk...
@ Chad / Ryanair safety
Ryanair is 100% accident-free so far as I'm aware - no fatalities at all, happily. Which is pretty good considering how many people they move and how long they've been doing it. Now, who was it that ploughed a field in London with a B777 recently?
Yes, Ryanair are cheap and cheerful, but you pays your money and you takes your choice.
Personally I think the schoolgirl advert is just very, very naff - so I respect their flight ops people a lot more than I respect their ad agency.
sexualisation of girls in European society
This sexualisation of girls in European society is turning your kids into worldly children. They have the words, the dress, and attitude, yet they don't understand what it all means.
Look around at all the people who are working and trying to make ends meet for their families and their children who are normal and not (generally) over sexualised or worldly beyond their years, do they resemble what this ad typifies? Or perhaps it is the growing majority who allow their children to dress like prostitutes and hoodlums, while allowing them to roam the streets at the age of 5; those who have children simply to collect money from the government. Is this who Ryanian are speaking to, is this who they are trying to attract?
I wish them luck and will pay the extra to fly an airline that doesn't insult my intelligence.
Ex-pat from US living in your country