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Complaint upheld over Ryanair ad that 'promoted excessive drinking'

Complainants thought the advert “encouraged drunken behaviour”.

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority for Ireland (ASAI) has upheld a complaint about a Ryanair ad.

The advertisement in question appeared on the airline’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. 

“Book on ryanair.com in between “studying” tonight. This could be you.”

ryanairtweet The image from the ad in question. Source: Ryanair

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 advert. 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

According to the ASAI report on the matter, when questioned about the complaints, Ryanair said it “regretted the complainants’ interpretation of the post as promoting the misuse of alcohol” and said this was not its intention. The online posts were removed immediately upon being contacted by the ASAI Executive.

In its response, Ryanair also said it encouraged responsible drinking and had a zero-tolerance policy regarding alcohol misuse on-board its flights. It said cabin crew members were trained to deal with any alcohol-related disturbances and that the sale of alcohol on-board was monitored and regulated. 

The airline concluded by saying that this was a one-off social media post that would not be reposted.

Legal drinking age 

In its report, the ASAI noted that its Complaints 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”.

The committee noted that, under the ASAI code, 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.

The complaint was upheld but no further action was taken as the advertisement had already been withdrawn.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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