Double attack on Ryanair advertising

Low cost airline in image rights row and ASA rebuke

Low cost airline Ryanair have been sued by French President Sarkozy and his girlfriend Carla Bruni over an advert placed in the French media on the same day as the airline dismissed the UK advertising watchdog’s rebuke of their UK advertising.

The Advertising Standards Agency today ruled that the airline’s advert entitled ‘Hottest Back to School fares’ which depicted a model in sexually provocative schoolgirl get-up was irresponsible, likely to cause offence and linked teenagers with sexualised behaviour. Adverts had been placed in national newspapers and 13 readers had complained to the ASA. Ryanair publicly rejected the criticisms of the advert, labelling the Agency “Monty Python-esque” and “unelected self-appointed dimwits”. “This isn’t advertising regulation, it is simply censorship,” said a spokesman, who insisted the advert would not be withdrawn.

Separately, Nicholas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni have launched claims in the French legal system seeking damages for the unauthorised use of the images in a Ryanair advertisement placed in a Paris newspaper. Ms Bruni was captioned, in a photograph of the couple, exclaiming ‘With Ryanair, all my friends can come to my wedding.’

Mme Bruni’s claim for unauthorised use of her image is based on the alleged cost of publishing authorised photographs of the former model, €500,000. M. Sarkozy claims damages of one euro. Ryanair has apologised for the use of the picture and has reportedly offered to make donations of €5,000 to two charities of their choice by way of settlement.