Ryanair ordered to remove ‘jab and go’ advert over misleading vaccine claims

3 February 2021, 09:32

Ryanair's advert was found to have encouraged consumers to book holidays after having received a Covid vaccination
Ryanair's advert was found to have encouraged consumers to book holidays after having received a Covid vaccination. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Ryanair has been ordered to remove an “irresponsible” advert after the advertising watchdog received thousands of complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority said they received 2,370 complaints about the budget airline's advert, making it the third most complained about of all time.

The commercial, which was shown from December to January, encouraged consumers to book Easter and summer holidays after having received a Covid vaccination, suggesting they could "jab and go".

Footage showed groups of people in their 20s and 30s enjoying the holiday destinations - despite most people in this age group being unlikely to receive their Covid jab for months.

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Some of the complaints claimed “jab and go" implied most people would be able to travel by summer 2021, something ministers have warned they cannot make promises on.

Others claimed the ad was offensive, saying it trivialised ongoing restrictions and effects of the pandemic.

Ryanair countered that the advert was intended to be "uplifting" and encourage viewers to consider a "brighter future" when people could go on holiday with friends and family again.

Read more: Don't go shopping in variant-risk areas if you don't have to, Hancock tells LBC

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The airline said the public were aware of the constantly changing travel restrictions and that they made no specific claims about vaccines.

It added that it believed the Government's "optimistic" briefings implied that a significant proportion of the population would be vaccinated midway through the year.

However, the ASA ordered the advert to be removed, ruling: "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."

The watchdog said due to the "complex and constantly evolving" situation, consumers could be "confused or uncertain" and it was important that advertisers were "cautious".

Read more: Matt Hancock tells LBC how film Contagion alerted him to global vaccine scramble

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Although some viewers may have found the tone of the advert "distasteful", it was unlikely to have caused widespread offence, the ASA added.

The government and experts have said they expect restrictions on international travel to stay in place for the foreseeable future, amidst concerns over the spread of new Covid variants.

On Sunday, government minister Liz Truss told LBC it would be “very dangerous” to make promises about holidays, saying “it is far too early to make” predictions on whether Brits will be allowed to travel for leisure this summer.

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