A Ryanair ad depicting controversial Sinn Fein politician Martin McGuinness claiming its flights are so low even the British Army “flew home” from Northern Ireland has been branded “crass” and “deliberately provocative”.
Michael Copeland, Ulster Unionist Party East Belfast representative, has blasted the airline for the press campaign, which has been running in the region to promote its low fares from Belfast.
The ad has also attracted four complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), with more expected.
The ad shows a mock-up of McGuinness with a speech bubble claiming: “Ryanair fares are so low even the British Army flew home.” Gerry Adams, president of republican party Sinn Fein, is also pictured.
Copeland says: “The Ryanair marketing department is clearly stupid if they think that an advert like this is going to endear their company to a large chunk of the Northern Ireland travelling public.”
He adds that the “deliberately provocative” ad was “insensitive, crass and makes a clear political statement on the part of Ryanair”.
But a Ryanair spokeswoman has made light of the politician’s concerns. She says: “Michael Copeland should book one of our cheap flights. Maybe he needs a break – he certainly needs a sense of humour.”
Ryanair has a history of attracting complaints with its controversial advertising. Last month, it was censured by the ASA for a campaign criticising Gordon Brown’s plans to increase in air passenger duty, introduced when he was still Chancellor.
The campaign included four national press ads, using pictures of Brown and with headlines such as “The great plane robber” and “Greedy Gordon’s shock confession”. The ASA, which received 48 complaints, ruled against the airline on two counts.