Controversial Ryanair ad pulled after more than 2,000 complaints

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.


Ryanair must have had its head in the clouds when it came up with this one (Image credit: Ryanair)

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:

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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. 

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).