Irish airline Ryanair announced its decision to defy the orders of the UK advertising watchdog, and continue to run a controversial ad that was told to be taken out of circulation.
The airline called the order "absurd." The ad, showing a woman dressed in a provocative schoolgirl outfit, was deemed as "irresponsible" by the Advertising Standards Authority. Underneath the photo was the tagline about the
airline's hottest back to school fares.
The ad appeared in the Herald, Daily Mail, and the Scottish Daily Mail, obtaining a 3.5-million circulation, according to The Press Association.
A total of 13 complains from readers cried out that the ad linked teenage girls to illicit and sexual behaviours. The ASA recently catered to the outcry, ordering the three newspapers to take down the ad and never run it again.
We considered that her appearance and pose, in conjunction with the heading 'hottest' appeared to link teenage girls with sexually provocative behavior and was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence, the ASA was
quoted as saying.
The airline responded by saying that 13 complaints out of a more than 3 million readership was an "insignificant" proportion.
It is remarkable that a fully clothed model is now claimed to cause 'serious or widespread offence', said Ryanair head of communications Peter Sherrard, when many of the UK's leading daily newspapers regularly run pictures of topless or
partially dressed females without causing any serious or widespread offence. Sherrard continued by calling the ASA demanding orders for censorship's sake, and not advertising regulations.
The ASAs decision not to invoke its ultimate sanction and refer Ryanair to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), despite repeated breaches of ASA regulations, has raised questions about whether self-regulation in advertising is really working.
The ASA claims that advertisers who persistently breach its non-broadcast advertising codes are referred to the OFT, but only after a 'longlist' of other sanctions have been considered.
A spokesman for the ASA said a referral would be made only under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations, while offensive ads are governed by rules on breaches of taste and decency: Only when other sanctions have been exhausted,
such as refusing an advertiser media space, invoking compulsory pre-vetting, or taking away trading privileges, do we consider a referral. In most cases, sanctions are effective in bringing advertisers into line.'
Ryanair's latest breach was of the taste and decency rules, and the sanction the ASA imposed was to issue an alert to newspapers instructing them not to run the ad.
The supposedly shocking Ryanair ad features a young woman in a classroom: she has a bare midriff and is wearing a short skirt, knee-high stockings and a tight blouse and school tie. The ad was published in three newspapers - the Herald, the Daily
Mail and the Scottish Daly Mail - which have a combined readership of 3.5million. Was ‘widespread offence’ taken? Not quite; not even nearly. Out of more than three million people who will have seen the ad, 13 complained - yes, 13. That is about
the same number of people who were on the downstairs level of my bus this morning. Yet the ASA agreed with these 13 super-sensitive souls that the ad was a shocker, and ruled that the model’s appearance and pose, ‘in conjunction with the heading
“HOTTEST”’, suggested a link between ‘teenage girls and sexually provocative behaviour’ (5). Thus the ad was ‘irresponsible’; thus it must be expunged from the public realm.
This is institutionalised prudishness. The content of the ad is no worse than something one might see on MTV or indeed elsewhere in national newspapers. As Peter Sherrard, Ryanair’s head of communications, said: ‘It is remarkable that a picture
of a fully-clothed model is now claimed to cause “serious or widespread offence”, when many of the UK’s leading newspapers regularly run pictures of topless or partially-dressed females without causing any serious or widespread offence.’ (6) Yet
the existence of organisations like the ASA and the Office of Communications (Ofcom, which regulates broadcasting in general in the UK) acts as an invitation to squeamish, easily-offended or even self-interested individuals and parties to force
through their own personal censorship of things they don’t like. It empowers the prudish, giving their narrow-minded outrage the full weight of officialdom’s backing. The ASA and Ofcom represent the tyranny of the minority.
Congratulations! You have done something which I never thought possible.
I am mightily unimpressed with Ryanair's appalling attitude towards its customers and its dodgy commercial practices in disguising its real fares (and destinations). I have not yet travelled with that company, and it would be my last choice of
airline for future flights. I now find myself for the first time actually sympathising with the company.
Your ruling in the case of their "schoolgirl" advertisement strains credulity. I understand, from an article by Brendan O'Neill on the online journal Spiked, that the advertisement appeared in media with a combined readership of about
3.5 million and generated only thirteen complaints. This really does seem to be a quite grotesque case of allowing yourselves to be swayed by a tiny number of absurdly prudish people.
Low-cost airline Ryanair has received a reprimand from Sweden's Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK) for an ad campaign featuring a scantily clad woman posing as a schoolgirl.
The airline has been criticized for a campaign aimed at marketing low price fares to coincide with the start of the school year. To drive home the point, a smiling schoolgirl in a mini-skirt and short blouse is depicted beside a blackboard
announcing the hottest back to school prices.
According to ERK, the woman in the school uniform is used to catch the eye in a sexual manner that is offensive to women in general.
Ryanair claimed Sweden's Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising was out of touch with the Britney Spears generation .
In defending the advertisement, Ryanair questioned whether the ERK accurately reflected the views of most Swedes: We are sure that the anti-funsters at the ERK do not speak for the majority of the famously liberal and easy going Swedes .
The ad simply reflects the way a lot of young girls like to dress. We hope the old farts at the ERK loosen up a little.
Note that the British old farts at ASA also got wound up by a variation of this advert.
Budget airline Ryanair went on the attack, mocking Swedish feminist politician Birgitta Ohlsson's call for a boycott of the airline because of its allegedly sexist advertising practices.
This really is a storm in a D cup! said Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara in a statement: We're sure that Boring Birgitta will be overrun by the flood of right minded, liberal, people who support Ryanair's determination to defend the
rights of girls and boys to get their kit off – if they want to.
The airline's rebuttal comes hot on the heels of a call by Ohlsson for consumers to boycott the airline for refusing to apologize for an advertisement deemed sexist by Sweden's Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK).
It's my duty as a feminist politician to name and shame companies like this, the NotSoLiberal Party politician told The Local.
The airline said it would celebrate Ryanair's sexy Swedish ad by launching one million €10 mid week seats. We will also be sending free tickets to Boring Birgitta so that she can take a nice relaxing break, loosen up a little and stop
calling for silly boycotts, said McNamara.
In about a month after the release of the 2012 edition of Ryanair's Cabin Crew Charity Calendar, the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen-RO) has received 33 complaints about adverts promoting the calendar.
[Thirty Three] People think the advertisment is sexist and that it doesn't belong on a website meant to sell plane tickets, Advertising Ombudsman Elisabeth Trotzig told The Local.
33 complaints lands the Ryanair calendar campaign second only to an ad campaign for the Victoria Milan dating service, which supposedly encouraged marital infidelity, in terms of the number of complaints filed with the Ombudsman.
Ryanair now has two weeks to respond to the Ombudsman about the complaints, after which the watchdog will decide how to proceed with the case.
Ryanair's spokesperson Stephen McNamara rightly didn't seem bothered by Swedish complaints over the calendar, a project the airline has carried out annually since 2008.
Ryanair's cabin crew calendar has raised EUR500,000 ($672,000) for charity in just five years and we will continue to support the right of our crew to take their clothes off to raise money for those who need it most, he told The Local.
In line with previous years, all 10,000 copies of the 2012 edition of the Ryanair swimsuit calendar have been sold.
Update: Now miserable Brits have a whinge at a Ryanair advert
The advertising watchdog is to launch an investigation into an ad campaign by Ryanair featuring a flight attendant in modest lingerie after whinges that it made it cabin crew look like glamour models .
The slightly pulled down bikini bottom is sure to offend that advert censors of ASA. After all they do have a reputation to uphold as the Daily Mail of media censors.
The Irish budget airline ran a newspaper ad featuring a lingerie-clad flight attendant called Ornella, who appears as the model for the month of February in the Ryanair charity calendar, with the strapline red hot fares & crew .
Ryanair has now been targeted by an online nutter campaign backed by more than 7,000 people.
The Advertising Standards Authority has received 10 complaints from nutters who claim that the ads are sexist and objectify women, particularly female cabin crew . The complainants allege that they are offensive and unsuitable for
display in a national newspaper .
a. The first ad, published in The Guardian, showed a woman in a bra and pants. She had one hand on her hip and pulled her pants slightly down with the thumb of the other. The headline stated RED HOT FARES & CREW!!! ONE WAY FROM
£ 9.99 . Further text stated BUY THE 2012 CABIN CREW CHARITY CALENDAR ON RYANAIR.COM! , and in the bottom right corner of the photograph, ORNELLA FEBRUARY .
b. The second ad, published in The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, showed a woman in a bra and pants. The headline stated RED HOT FARES & CREW!!! ONE WAY FROM £ 9.99 . Further text stated BUY
THE 2012 CABIN CREW CHARITY CALENDAR ON RYANAIR.COM! , and in the bottom right corner of the photograph, GILLIAN MARCH .
Thirteen complainants, who believed ad (a) was sexist and objectified women, particularly female cabin crew, challenged whether it was offensive and unsuitable for display in a national newspaper.
Four complainants, who believed ad (b) was sexist and objectified women, particularly female cabin crew, challenged whether it was offensive and unsuitable for display in a national newspaper.
Ryanair said the ads promoted their 2012 cabin crew charity calendar and used images taken directly from it. They said, because members of their cabin crew volunteered their time to produce and promote the calendar, it was not sexist and could
not be seen to objectify the women who appeared in it. They said, because similar images of women and men often featured in the same media, the ads could not be deemed offensive or unsuitable for public display.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted both ads promoted one way fares from £ 9.99 and a cabin crew charity calendar. We also noted the women, featured in ads (a) and (b), were wearing underwear and looking directly at the reader and
considered that, although the images were not overtly sexual in content, the appearance, stance and gaze of the women, particular the one in ad (a), who was shown pulling her pants slightly down, were likely to be seen as sexually suggestive. We
also considered that most readers would interpret these images, in conjunction with the text RED HOT FARES & CREW!!! and the names of the women, as linking female cabin crew with sexually suggestive behaviour. Although we acknowledged
that the women in the ads had consented to appear in the calendar, we considered that the ads were likely to cause widespread offence, when displayed in a national newspaper, and therefore concluded that they breached the Code.
Ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence). Action
A Spanish judge has belatedly banned adverts for the 2013 Ryanair calendar featuring female flight attendants in bikinis.
The judge claimed that the calendar, released each year by the low-cost airline in support of charitable causes, was sexist. Ryanair said it would appeal the decision.
Adverts for the calendar prompted an appeal by a gender extremist group, and this week a court in the southern city of Malaga ruled that the adverts treated the women as objects and were discriminatory, Spanish media reported.
The judge reportedly banned the airline from using the pictures and ordered it to publish the judgement at its own expense.
The calendar raised over 100,000 euros for a Polish charity, the TVN Foundation, to help sick children in Poland.