Ryanair Ads: Aggressive Marketing Strategy or Blatant Downplay of Rivals?

Ryanair, the no-frill pay-for-every-service Irish airline, had been known apparently not only for its unimaginably cheap airfare, but also for its highly imaginative, albeit offensive, company slogans promoting new routes. And as the company aimed to expand to Belgium, its flamboyant chant caught the eyes of the indigenous airline–Sabena, the flag carrier of Belgium, sued Ryanair over its use of misleading ads, one of which quoted, “pised off with Sabena’s high fares?”, making a reference to the Manneken Pis in Brussels.

As expected, Ryanair lost the case and was forced to discontinue the use of the ad from its fleet. However, it claimed that through the controversy it had succeeded in delivering the message across, and coincidentally Sabena filed for bankruptcy the very same year. True that it could be argued that Ryanair’s act of open mockery of its rival breached the code of ethics normally observed in the business world, but did it violate against the spirit of free-market? Ryanair had in essence stated a fact in a more direct manner, and utilized rhetoric to highlight this fact. And as far as Sabena’s concerned, its legal actions merely broadcasted this fact to everybody else who wasn’t aware.

Image courtesy of: www.ryanair.com, http://www.nerjatoday.com/nerjanews/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/ryanair.jpg, in order of precedence.

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