Ryanair to defy UK advertising watchdog over 'schoolgirl ad'
Ryanair says it has no plans to withdraw an advert deemed likely to cause "serious or widespread offence" by the UK advertising regulator.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told the budget airline to withdraw the press advert, which ran in the Herald, Daily Mail and Scottish Daily Mail last summer.
But Ryanair has condemned the decision, describing it as "absurd".
In the advert, which carried the strapline "hottest back to school fares", a teenage girl or woman stood in a classroom wearing, according to the ASA, a "short tartan skirt, a cropped short sleeved shirt and tie and long white socks".
Underneath the main image was text explaining one-way fares to fares to Derry, Belfast, Budapest, Grenoble and Stockholm were available for £10.
The advert drew 13 complaints, with people criticising its sexual connotations and claiming they were offended at what looked like a schoolgirl "posing and dressing provocatively".
The ASA has today upheld these complaints; and received assurances from the three newspapers that it will not be shown again.
"We considered that her appearance and pose, in conjunction with the heading 'hottest' appeared to link teenage girls with sexually provocative behaviour and was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence," the watchdog said.
But Ryanair claims 13 complaints out of a combined readership of 3.5 million represent an "insignificant" proportion.
The airline's head of communications, Peter Sherrard, said: "The ASA becomes more Monty Pythonesque by the day.
"It is remarkable that a picture of a fully clothed model is now claimed to cause 'serious or widespread offence', when many of the UK's leading daily newspaper regularly run pictures of topless or partially dressed females without causing any serious or widespread offence."
Mr Sherrard added: "This isn't advertising regulation, it is simply censorship."