A “denigratory” Ryanair advertising campaign that falsely suggested that Thomas Cook was likely to go into administration has been condemned by the advertising watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Authority has banned the adverts, headed “Bye Bye Thomas Cook”.
The November newspaper campaign claimed the tour operator was in “dire straits”, with debts of nearly £1 billion. The ASA received 15 complaints but Ryanair argued the adverts reflected “public commentary”.
“They believed it was factually accurate that the financial difficulties of Thomas Cook had given rise to considerable public commentary about the possibility of them going into administration and whether it was risky to book with them,” the ASA said.
The adverts contained extracts from news stories about the operator’s financial difficulties, contrasted with positive comments about Ryanair’s own financial security.
While the adverts were unlikely to cause “serious or widespread offence” or “fear or distress,” the ASA ruled that they could not run again in their current form.
“We considered that the header ‘Bye Bye Thomas Cook’ pictured alongside the newspaper headlines would lead consumers to believe that Thomas Cook was likely to go into administration and that it was risky to book with them,” it ruled.
“As a result we concluded that the ads were misleading and denigratory.”