EasyJet threatens action over Ryanair “Pinocchio” ad

The rivalry between low-cost carriers Easyjet and Ryanair has escalated with the threat of legal action over an advertisement that likens easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou to Pinocchio.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou

The Ryanair ad features a doctored image of Sir Stelios with an elongated nose in the style of the children’s character, whose nose grows when he tells a lie.

The ad features a speech bubble with the line “punctuality is a top priority” coming from Sir Stelios’ mouth with the strapline “easyJet – Mr Late again”, a reference to Ryanair’s claim that easyJet has failed to publish punctuality statistics.

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the Irish carrier, says he has received a letter from easyJet’s solicitors Schillings demanding an apology and damages, claiming the advert “caused ongoing and escalating damage to our client’s reputation”.

It is also emerged that easyJet has instructed its lawyers Herbert Smith to take legal action over a BBC interview when O’Leary referred to easyJet as a “high-fare airline”.

The lawyers are claiming malicious falsehood and defamation and demanding an apology, adding that the phrase is not in “accordance with the public image [that easyJet] cultivates and promotes as a low-cost, no-frills airline and [that easyJet] is thereby acting hypocritically and promoting a false public image”.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here