ASA bans Ryanair and LastMinute.com advertisements after finding them to be 'misleading'

ASA has asked both the companies not to display the ads again in its current format.

ASA also found the ads of both Ryanair and Lastminute.com to be breaching certain rules of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code)Reuters

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned certain advertisements of Ryanair and lastminute.com, the regulator revealed on Wednesday (4 January).

ASA said it found these ads "misleading" and breaching certain rules of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code). It asked the companies not to show them again in its current format.

The move follows ASA receiving separate complaints against the two companies over their respective ads.

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With regards to lastminute.com, the complaint was against their ad for a package to New York on 15 September 2016 that said "£569 [$696.36] Price per person Flight + hotel". The complainant said she had booked the package but was subsequently asked to pay an additional £70.77 as the advertised price was no longer available. The complainant hence challenged whether the price claim was misleading and could be substantiated.

Lastminute.com had in response said the products they offered "were dynamic and their availability was subject to change at any time." However, ASA upheld the complaint.

In a statement, it said, "...approximately an hour after making a booking request for the package at the quoted price (which included making the payment), the complainant was informed that the price had increased and they would need to pay an additional sum of £70.77 in order to maintain the booking. Because the package was not available at the price quoted in the ad, we concluded that the price statement was misleading."

With regards to Ryanair, the complaint was against their television advert seen on 5 October 2016, that said, "Book now from just £19.99. Ryanair. Low fares. Made simple". While the on-screen text had displayed "Fly from £19.99", the small on-screen text said "Fares one way. Book by 10/11/16. Travel by 25/03/17". Meanwhile, a larger text format that appeared at the end of the ad said "Summer 2017 on sale now."

The complainant in this case said the ad was misleading as it was made to understand that the £19.99 offer was applicable to flights for summer 2017. In response, Ryanair said the primary message of the ad was a £19.99 promotional fare for travel until 25 March 2017 and that this was clearly communicated by the disclaimer displayed on the screen.

However, the ASA upheld the complaint. In a separate statement, it said, "While we noted that the £19.99 offer was qualified by small text stating the start and end dates for the promotion, we considered that, given the conjunction of the offer with the claim "Summer 2017 on sale now", the qualification was not sufficiently prominent to correct the overall impression that summer 2017 flights were included in the sale. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading."

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