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Product: Airline Services
Medium: Internet (Social Media)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.3, 3.16, 3.25, 9.1, 9.2, 9.4, 9.5(b), 9.5(d), 9.5(e), 9.7(a), 9.7(b), 9.7(e), 9.8(a), 9.8(b), 9.8(c), 9.8(f), 9.8(h)
The advertisement appeared on Ryanair’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts. The text in both posts read:
“To all #Leaving Cert and #ALevel students: plan your dream summer holiday now so you have something to look forward to. (Plane emoji on Twitter post) (Sunglasses emoji on the Facebook post.) Book on ryanair.com in between "studying" tonight. This could be you.” (Hand emoji pointing downwards to an image below)
The image below the text was of a male lying on a beach on his side, as if asleep, with his head supported on his elbow. An empty unidentified bottle, resembling a clear glass wine bottle, was beside him.
12 complaints were received in relation to the advertising. The common themes running through the complaints were as follows:
• The advertisement normalised and encouraged drunken behaviour.
• The advertisement was irresponsible towards young people and encouraged them to engage in harmful levels of alcohol consumption.
• The advertisement failed to adhere to standards pertaining to the depiction of alcohol in marketing communications.
The advertisers said that they regretted the complainants’ interpretation of the post as promoting the misuse of alcohol. They said that this was not their intention and removed the post immediately upon being contacted by the ASAI Executive.
The advertisers also stated that they encouraged responsible drinking and had a zero-tolerance policy regarding alcohol misuse on-board their flights. They said that their cabin crew were trained to deal with any alcohol-related disturbances and that the sale of alcohol on-board was monitored and regulated. Furthermore, the advertisers stated that customers who were intoxicated were not permitted to fly with Ryanair.
The advertisers also said that they had been campaigning for more stringent airport alcohol guidelines in an effort to control the numbers of aforementioned intoxicated passengers and the ensuing fallout from this.
They concluded by saying that this was a one-off social media post that would not be reposted.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the advertisers had immediately withdrawn the advertising when requested to do so by the ASAI Executive.
The Committee considered the content of the advertising, in particular the implication that holidays taken by Leaving Cert and A Level students directly correlated to excessive drinking and that the advertising was targeting those groups, which may include those under the legal drinking age. They noted that the scene portrayed the image of a person seemingly alone at sunrise near water with the insinuation that they had consumed excess alcohol.
They noted the Code requirements that advertisements should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society and that marketing communications may not suggest, or commend, or make fun of over-indulgence in respect of alcohol or its after-effects. Marketing communications should not portray drinking alcohol as a challenge nor should they show, imply or encourage immoderate or irresponsible drinking. In addition, marketing communications should not depict any direct association with the consumption of alcoholic drinks and activities or locations where drinking alcohol would be unsafe.
The Complaints Committee considered that the text of the advertising combined with the image of a young person on a beach alongside what appeared to be an empty wine bottle was in breach of Sections 3.3, 9.5(d), 9.8(b), 9.8(f) and 9.8(h).
As the advertisement had been withdrawn, no further action was required in relation to it.