The commercials, which were shown on TV in late December and early January, told viewers in a voice-over that “COVID vaccines are coming” and encouraged them to “book your Easter and summer holidays today” with Ryanair to “sunshine destinations in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and many more.”
Featuring young people engaged in holiday activities without socially distancing or wearing masks, the ads told viewers they could just “Jab & Go,” with both the voice-over and large on-screen text in capital letters.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it got 2,370 complaints following the broadcasts.
The watchdog ruled that “the implication in the ads that most people who wished to go on holiday at Easter or summer 2021 would be vaccinated in time to do so, and that being vaccinated against COVID-19 would allow people to go on holiday without restrictions during those periods, was misleading.”
The ruling said that, based on the information available at the time when the ads were broadcast, “it was highly unlikely that societal groups outside of phase one of the rollout would be maximally protected in time to holiday in either summer or Easter 2021.”
It said even vaccinated individuals “might still be infected with, or spread, the virus and were therefore advised to continue social distancing and mask-wearing.”
“In that context we understood that any travel restrictions (either on leaving the UK or entering other countries) and other restrictions such as social distancing and mask-wearing were likely to remain the same for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals in at least the short- to medium-term.”
The ASA also found the ads, and particularly the “Jab & Go” claim, irresponsible.
“We considered this could encourage vaccinated individuals to disregard or lessen their adherence to restrictions, which in the short term could expose them to the risk of serious illness, and in the longer term might result in them spreading the virus. As such we considered the ads could encourage people to behave irresponsibly once vaccinated,” said the ruling.
“We further considered the ads encouraged people to behave irresponsibly by prompting those who were not yet eligible to be vaccinated to contact GPs or other NHS services in an attempt to arrange vaccination, at a time when health services were under particular strain.”
In response, Ryanair said it “respectfully disagrees” with the ASA’s “baseless” ruling, though it will comply.
“The ASA’s ruling flies in the face of the UK’s successful vaccine rollout, however even though this ruling is baseless, Ryanair will comply with it and the Jab & Go adverts will not run again,” said a Ryanair spokesperson in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times.