We've seen all manner of ingeniously creative responses to the coronavirus pandemic over the last year, with artists and advertisers alike forced to think outside the box. But while not every brand has got its response quite right, perhaps none have got it as spectacularly wrong as budget airline Ryanair.
After receiving over 2,000 complaints (the third-highest ever for an ad), the company's 'Jab & Go' spot has been deemed "irresponsible" – and pulled from both TV and online. Many of our best print ads are pretty irreverent, but this one is truly tone-deaf.
The ad has already been removed from the web, but the Advertising Standards' Authority's ruling gives a pretty comprehensive account. It began with "an image of a medical syringe and a vial labelled VACCINE", followed by the text "VACCINES ARE COMING". Footage then showed "groups of people in their twenties and thirties enjoying holiday destinations" as a voice-over urged viewers to book for the summer. Finally, the words "JAB & GO!" appeared on-screen. A nice, subtle ad, then.
Many of the whopping 2,370 complainants said it was misleading to suggest most people would be vaccinated by spring or summer, while others felt it encouraged "irresponsible" behaviour once vaccinated. Indeed, the ad didn't feature any face coverings – clearly none of Ryanair's holidaymakers had checked where to buy a face mask before take-off.
Ryanair claimed that viewers "would understand the ads envisaged a hypothetical Easter or summer holiday," and that the average consumer was "familiar with information about the vaccines, their rollout schedule, travel restrictions and the inherent uncertainty in the travel industry". Perhaps – but that's a lot to keep up with right now (especially while also trying to remember what day it is).
And judging by the response on Twitter, many of those who caught the ad agree that it was just plane (sorry) bad:
Very pleased that the absolutely awful Ryanair "jab and go" ad has become the third most complained about of all time. It won't be aired again. It struck totally the wrong tone, and I won't be sorry to never see it again!February 3, 2021
It's about time, @Ryanair how could you think this was a good idea. Should have been banned straight away. https://t.co/l9Tn4lXAEmFebruary 3, 2021
I was one of the complainants on this. Ryanair’s advert was disgusting and essentially irresponsible. It’s shocking it took this long to take down https://t.co/u8b54yt9BlFebruary 3, 2021
Glad the Ryanair advert ‘Jab&Go’ got banned. False advertising at its finest. Getting people all hyped for holidays knowing damn well a single vaccine shot isn’t a perma-fixFebruary 3, 2021
Glad to see the advertising watchdog has made those insensitive fools Ryanair remove their jab and go ad. No idea why anyone uses them to be honest.February 3, 2021
@Ryanair JAB AND GO AD BANNED.GOOD IT WAS A DISGRACEFebruary 3, 2021
Thankfully, for every clanger like Ryanair's, there's a brilliantly creative TV ad out there. Our favourites from last year included Childline's heartwarming 'Nobody is Normal' spot and Bodyform's fantastic #WombStories ad – and with competition like that, Ryanair's effort was never going to fly. Check out our best laptops for video editing if you fancy making your own masterpiece.