Ryanair has received a fast-tracked ban from the ad watchdog, after the brand’s “Jab and go” campaign became the third-most complained about ad of all time for its depiction of travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
The ad, which was created by The Tenth Man and launched on 26 December, begins as a narrator declares, “Covid vaccines are coming”, before encouraging holidaymakers to book a trip to Spain, Portugal, Greece or Italy this spring.
It ends as the tagline “Jab and go” appears in giant letters.
A second ad was released on 4 January with the same imagery, text and voiceover, but referring to a different price offer.
The Advertising Standards Authority received 2,370 complaints about the ad, many of which argued that it was “misleading” because it suggested that a majority of the population would be successfully vaccinated against Covid-19 by spring/summer 2021.
Other complaints described the “Jab and go” tagline as “irresponsible” and “offensive".
Ryanair argued that the wording “vaccines are coming” does not explicitly state who would be vaccinated, when they would be vaccinated, how vaccines would be administered or how long it would take to achieve maximal protection once vaccinated.
The ASA upheld complaints that the ads were misleading and irresponsible because they implied that most people who wished to go on holiday over Easter or in summer 2021 would be vaccinated in time to do so.
Complaints that the ad was offensive were not upheld by the watchdog because the ads did not “trivialise the wider impacts of the pandemic”, according to the ASA.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said the brand “respectfully disagrees” with the ASA’s ruling, describing the ad as “both factual and accurate”.
“The ASA’s ruling flies in the face of the UK’s successful vaccine rollout, however, even though this ruling is baseless, Ryanair will comply with it and the ‘Jab and go’ ads will not run again,” the spokesperson said.
The campaign’s high number of complaints fell behind only two other ads, both from 2014: one for Booking.com which used the word "booking" in place of a swear word; and a Paddy Power ad that featured the likeness of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius surrounding his trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The ads received 2,451 and 5,525 complaints, respectively.
Last February, a Ryanair ad was banned by the ASA after claims it was Europe’s "lowest-emissions airline" were found to be misleading.