Ryanair, long known for its saucy and subversive ads, is in hot water over an ad featuring French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his lady love, Carla Bruni. With rumors of their engagement swirling around Paris, the ad shows Bruni musing at Ryanair’s low fares: “With Ryanair, my whole family will be able to come to my wedding.” Funny, of course, but policy-related? Why, yes. Sarkozy and Bruni have sued the scrappy Irish airline over their inclusion in the ad, he for €1 and she for €500,000. (A settlement is likely.)
As often happens with Ryanair’s ads, the controversy has generated much more attention than the ad itself. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary relishes the attention: “This is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” The airline’s entire corporate image is endearingly crass. It recently offered “a free night of passion” in an Irish hotel to the winners of a “snogging” contest, referred to its main competitor as “Lazyjet,” distributed a racy charity calendar (those who objected “were probably just jealous”), and vigorously lobbied against the government entities it crosses.
Sarko vs. Ryanair [Things with Wings]