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02nd Mar 2021

Ryanair in breach of advertising rules over “misleading” and “offensive” Vax and Go ad

Jade Hayden

The ad will not run again in its current format.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland has found Ryanair to be in breach of its codes of practice.

The airline’s recent “vax and go” advert, which encouraged people to “book your Easter and Summer holidays today with Ryanair,” has been found to be “misleading,” “offensive,” and “conflicting with public health guidelines.”

The advert showed a group of young people jumping into a swimming pool and a couple having a drink outside, as “Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece and many more” destinations were referenced.

A total of 59 complaints were made to the ASAI about the advert, with many stating that the ad was “misleading” as there was “no guarantee” they would be able to travel to destinations mentioned by Easter.

Others questioned whether the ad “conflicted with public health guidelines, which had the potential to change and whether it would be safe to travel at the time referenced in the advertising,” while others claimed that that the ad was “offensive” and “insensitive” given the severity of the pandemic.

All of the above complaints were upheld by the ASAI. Complaints concerning additional costs of bookings needed to be changed by Ryanair were not upheld.

Ryanair has claimed that the ad was “factual and accurate and simply promoted bookings on short haul flights for Easter or Summer 2021 (not Jan or Feb) on the basis that vaccines were coming.”

They added that there was “no basis” for any complaints and that they rejected those which they said were not “representative of the views of the large audience that the advertisement would have reached.”

Orla Twomey, Chief Executive of the ASAI, stated: “The latest complaints bulletin from the ASAI illustrates our ability to handle complaints across a variety of platforms, and demonstrates how we ensure that ads in Ireland stick to the advertising rules.

“The main role of advertising self-regulatory organisations (SROs), such as the ASAI, is to ensure that ads and other marketing communications are legal, truthful, decent and honest, prepared with a sense of social responsibility to the consumer and society and with proper respect for the principles of fair competition.”

She went on: “The ASAI is committed to protecting society in relation to advertising across all mediums. Self-regulatory ad standards provide an additional layer of consumer protection which complements legislative controls and offers an easily accessible means of resolving disputes.”

The ASAI has recommended that the ad “should not run in its current format again.”

You can read the ASAI’s full report here.