RYANAIR has been rapped for “misleading and irresponsible” ads which encouraged customers to book flights based on the availability of covid vaccines.
The budget airline aired TV ads in December and January which boasted: “Vaccines are coming.”
A voice-over stated: “Covid vaccines are coming. So book your Easter and summer holidays today with Ryanair.”
Viewers were told: “You could jab and go!”
Footage showed groups of people in their twenties and thirties enjoying the holiday destinations.
The ASA received 2,370 complaints, which fell into three broad categories.
The first alleged the adverts were misleading, particularly because the “jab and go” slogan implied most of the UK population would be vaccinated by the spring and summer.
The second allegation was that the ads trivialised the ongoing restrictions and effects of the pandemic on society and individuals and were offensive.
The third alleged the ads – particularly the slogan “jab and go” – were irresponsible.
The Advertising Standards Authority upheld the complaints relating to the ads being “misleading and irresponsible” but rejected the allegation they trivialised Covid.
The ASA stated: “The ads featured imagery of people, who appeared to be in their twenties and thirties, enjoying typical holiday activities without socially distancing or wearing masks, in four European ‘sunshine destinations’.
“We considered viewers would understand the key message of the ads to be that being vaccinated against Covid-19 was likely to allow people to go on holiday without restrictions.”
They added: “We considered this could encourage vaccinated individuals to disregard or lessen their adherence to restrictions, which in the short term could expose them to the risk of serious illness, and in the longer term might result in them spreading the virus.
“As such we considered the ads could encourage people to behave irresponsibly once vaccinated.
“We further considered the ads encouraged people to behave irresponsibly by prompting those who were not yet eligible to be vaccinated to contact GPs or other NHS services in an attempt to arrange vaccination, at a time when health services were under particular strain.”
The ASA ordered that the ads must not be broadcast again in the form complained of.
The ruling stated: “We told Ryanair DAC to ensure their ads did not mislead viewers about the impact that Covid-19 vaccines would have on their ability to travel abroad during Easter and summer 2021, and to ensure their ads did not encourage irresponsible behaviour.”
Ryanair told the ASA there were “important contextual factors” to take into account when considering the ads, including the situation at the time the ads were first broadcast.
Ryanair said the ads stated that “vaccines are coming”, but did not make any claims concerning who would be vaccinated, when they would be vaccinated, how vaccines were to be administered or how long it would take to achieve maximal protection once vaccinated.
Ryanair also said the Government had continued to give optimistic briefings into early January 2021.
By that time over 1.3 million people had been vaccinated and they intended that a further 13 million people would be vaccinated by mid-February.