Ryanair Offers Lies to Consumers – At No Extra Charge

Every now and then, Ryanair do something to melt people. There was changing the cabin bag policy so you now have to pay to be ‘priority’ to get anything bigger than a lunch bag on board. Then, they added the small text to “check-in 60 days before your flight for peace of mind” saying *if you pay extra, else, you can wait til 48 hours before. And let’s not forget the time they tried to charge for toilets. Bloons. 

But now, to put the icing on the cake – oh, that’ll be extra, sorry. They’ve been called out for Greenwashing. Honestly, like.

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You’ve probably heard or seen the ads, where Ryanair claim to have ” the lowest carbon emissions of any major airline”, and the tagline of “Europe’s lowest fares, lowest emissions airline”. Yeah, I was suspicious too. I thought, “hmm, that’s not like Ryanair to actually have something GOOD to say? but, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe all those extra charges paid for some better petrol or something.

But, nope. I was wrong. Well, I was wrong to believe it, but I was right to be suspicious. Because, well, let’s face it, I’m never wrong. Pffft. 

But, today came the news that the spoil-sports our dear friends, the ASA, banned the ads because they weren’t actually accurate or provable. Basically, they were lies. 

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Behold, propaganda an ad

The story kinda changes depending on which news source you use. Shock. The first one I read made it sound like Ryanair were actually telling the truth, because they compared their emissions to “four other large European airlines”. Whereas, the good old Guardian added a lil extra detail, that they “didn’t include some well-known airlines”.

So, I’m going to do y’all a favour and be the dependable news source that you know I am. First, let’s clarify a few things:

 1. “Lowest carbon emissions of any major airline”  means “lower than a couple”  

 2.  “Major airline” isn’t actually like a specific or agreed term. I mean, they probably ALL think they’re pretty major. And totally awesome.  

3. “Low CO2” means, “lower than average”

4. These CO2 emissions weren’t measured by the amount of CO2 emitted, but the “CO2 emissions per passenger, per kilometre“. Ryanair have less CO2 emissions per passenger than other airlines, because they have more passengers than other airlines. Hence why there’s no legroom. 

5. “Europe’s lowest fares, lowest emissions airline” AKA: “One of the EU’s Top 10 Carbon Emitters”  

6. “The single most important thing any consumer can do to halve their carbon footprint is switch to Ryanair.” Well, *flexes hands*, considering aviation (planes) account for 12% of transport CO2 emissions, while road accounts for 74%, people would be A LOT BETTER walking, cycling, scooting, using public transport, sharing lifts or just driving less. Also bearing in mind that most people drive several times a day, and don’t FLY several times a day, what do you think would make more of a difference?

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Oh look, it’s Michael O’Leary.

So, Ryanair were called out and the ads are banned now. BUT, a lot of the damage is done. To the planet, I mean. I haven’t heard those ads in a while, but if I hadn’t have checked the news and saw that they were banned for being not true,  I would’ve kept thinking they were true.

That’s the thing with Greenwashing. It doesn’t matter if the ad’s banned or changed, people will just think that the replacement ads are the latest ad campaign. Some people will always remember the claims that were made, or remember at least, that at some time, Ryanair (or any of the other companies that use people’s concern for the death of the planet and humanity to spread propaganda and increase sales) released ads telling everyone that they were green. 

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Brands spend a hell of a lot of time and money creating advertising campaigns which promote lies, which then get banned and need either changed or replaced, then spend more time and money replacing them and doing PR recovery by making a tiny change like “oh, we’re going to reduce 13% of our plastic use by 2050” (at which stage we’ll be lucky if the Earth is still here). Instead of just, I don’t know, ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY.

So yeah, to sum: Organisations are wrecking the planet and most don’t care. Of the few that actually DO make changes to be more eco-friendly, most are probably lying 🙂 GREAT. 

Happy Wednesday, folks. 

*Here’s my source for the stats, because, well, what I say actually CAN be proven. And isn’t a lie.

Remove Stigma, Not Hair: Why Brands Are Promoting Female Body Hair

Dove launched a campaign which is all about removing the “ideal underarm” beauty standard (aka 100% hair-free and the exact same colour as the rest of your skin). So, in their ad, they showed REAL underarms, that is, non-photoshopped, edited or filtered ones. Some of the models shown had underarm hair. Hold your gasps of horror, fellas. 

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But, it isn’t just Dove promoting female body hair, it’s become a bit of a recent trend. Which, is actually pretty sad considering it’s been a natural ‘trend’ since the beginning of humanity. But sure, better hundreds of years late than never, right?

Razor brand, Billie, showed women with ACTUAL body hair in their ad. AND they even used Billie’s razors to remove hair and show how good it is. This is pretty groundbreaking, because for some reason, brands seem to have an obsession with showing women with scarily reflective and hairless legs pretending to use razors ? The before and after is literally the exact same, not a great way to sell a £10 razor, in my opinion. 

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Rather than Gillette Venus‘s standard “you need to shave your legs to be a goddess” message (which is great for the kids), they ran a “my skin, my way” campaign which used models regular people who had scars, stretch marks, tattoos and vitiligo. But, this inclusive “to hell with beauty standards” campaign got a lot of backlash. Partly because people love a good scrap, yes (@ 90% of my blog posts). But, mainly because it showed a woman shaving her arms. As if girls and women don’t have ENOUGH body parts to worry about having to shave to satisfy the patriarchy and society. PLEASE give us more to do. We aren’t pressured enough!!

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There’s also the Janu-hairy trend which was encouraging women not to shave for the month of January. Which, by the way, is no more “unclean”, “weird” or “disgusting” than ‘Movember’. At least we don’t get food and beer caught in our leg hair. Hmph.

So, why are brands doing this? Because it’s about damn time people got over the fact that WOMEN HAVE HAIR TOO. I mean, how come women get judged for not shaving body hair, but men get judged for shaving body hair?

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for women shaving. I believe that women should shave. IF men have to. Men ‘have’ to shave their faces. IF they want to, but sure, beards are in! Women ‘have’ to shave everywhere below the eyebrows. Either both should have to shave every bit of body hair, or neither should. Fair is fair.

So, I’m pro-male grooming. I am more than happy for men to endure the pressure, pain and price that we have to from the age of about 11 years old. We’re literally children when we’re told by society to hide and remove something which grows naturally on ALL GENDERS. But, nah, boys you can keep it. Tough luck, gals. 

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We see all over social media how everyone prefers “natural” women, or the “natural look” is in. As long as any hair is either bleached, clipped in or drawn on, of course. Ah, nature. ‘Tis a beautiful thing. 

If you ask women why they shave, they’ll probably say it’s because they think it looks nicer, or because they want to. But, why do we think it looks nicer? Maybe because we’re conditioned and socialised to believe that it looks nicer, and the alternative is ugly, unclean and unnatural. All we see in the media and in the people around us is shaven, hairless people, so of course we assume that’s what people SHOULD look like. 

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We “want to”. Do we really? Or do we want to avoid the disgust, judgement and abuse if we don’t? Ask women if they want to shave, they might say yeah. Ask them if they “want” to perform dangerous shower-acrobatics, suffer the pain of accidentally nicking themselves, wrecking their towels and the hour of bleeding after the cut (because those cuts NEVER seem to heal???), and spending an arm and a leg (literally) for razors, waxing, threading and laser hair removal. If it’s so FUN and wantable (don’t) then why don’t men join us? Why doesn’t everyone want to? 

See, brands aren’t just promoting female body hair, they’re promoting choice and removing stigma. And they’re promoting their products too, like, smashing the patriarchy won’t pay the bills, I guess.

Peloton's Advertising Disaster

Now, we all know Christmas ads can be pretty cringey – like the Mariah Carey ‘Walkers’ one, BRUTAL, and the public are just sitting at the ready just WAITING to slate them online. But one that’s getting a lot of attention is the Peloton one.

You’ve probably heard of Peloton, it’s basically a (£2,000) exercise bike with a tablet-y thing that lets your stream live workouts while you pedal. I know what you’re thinking, but no, it’s COMPLETELY different to just watching YouTube workout videos on a regular spin bike…

Does everyone look like this during exercise?

Anyway, Peloton released their Christmas ad a few weeks ago, if you haven’t seen it or don’t fancy watching the 2 minute creative masterpiece, here’s a lil summary: The ad starts with a man buying his wife a Peloton exercise bike for Christmas (so basically the gift of pain, sweat and exhaustion, lucky gal). For her revenge, To thank him, she decides to make a vlog of her using the bike throughout the year, and makes a compilation video, which she then forces him lets him watch. The ultimate film night. 

Enjoy 🙂

It wasn’t long before this ad really got people talking, but not for good reasons. You’re shocked, I know. The ad was criticised for being “sexist”, with people saying a man buying his wife an exercise bike might be seen as an indication that he wants her to lose weight. I mean, it wouldn’t exactly boost your ego, would it? Then the fact that the woman looks to be in perfectly fit and healthy shape added a bit more fuel to the fire.

Next in line to be mocked by the public, was the woman saying, “A year ago, I didn’t realise how much this would change me”; because, well, there wasn’t exactly a jaw-dropping transformation (or transformation at all) after using the exercise bike for a year. So it doesn’t really do much in selling the actual product, does it? Using a “before and after” to showcase the results of using a fitness product is a pretty good strategy, but only if there are actual results to show, like.

Aside from that, the ad was mocked on Twitter for just being weird. The public were spoiled for choice on what to comment on. From the sheer fear in the poor woman’s eyes when she’s using the product which has been labelled as “dystopian”; to the fact that she not only filmed it, but made a compilation (why, like); and THEN presented this as a gift to her husband. Uncomfortable viewing to say the least. 

I know there’s the whole “all press is good press” thing, but, maybe not in this case. As if having their advertising efforts laughed at and criticised wasn’t bad enough, Peloton’s shares have actually gone down by 9% as a result of it. It just goes to show how crucial it is to get the ad and message right.

They recently responded to the criticism by saying that the ad was “misinterpreted”, and I do get what they were trying to do, but I think a few things were overlooked when choosing how to communicate it. It’ll be interesting to see how Peleton plan to recover from this and what their next ad will be like. Whether this one’s “sexist” or “dystopian” can be argued, but what can’t be, is how painful it is to watch. 

Controversial Advertising: Stupid or Strategic?

Have you ever seen an ad and thought “who thought that was a good idea?!” And no, I don’t mean those corny ads like something you’d see on The Apprentice. I mean those ones that make you think “who approved that?” or “umm why?”

I’ve always thought the whole “all press is good press” notion was a bit, well, stupid really. I mean, I never really saw how negative publicity and consumer backlash could be a good thing for a business?

 

 

Well, today I saw this NHS ad campaign for breastfeeding on my LinkedIn feed. The only reason that I saw this ad was because a connection of mine shared it and expressed their outrage at the nature of the ad. Then I realised that I probably never would have seen the ad if it wasn’t for them sharing it. I mean, I don’t exactly strive to keep up to date on the goings on of the parenting and baby world (well not yet anyway).

This got me thinking though, what if Eminem was right? *gasps in background* What if we do need a little controversy? These ‘controversial’ ads do get people talking and raise awareness about the brand/product after all. So what if all press really is good press?

 

  • To clarify, I’m not saying “let’s go out and offend everyone in the name of free publicity” (or, “let’s listen to Eminem” – I’m definitely not saying that). I’m simply saying that maybe there is method in the madness. And I’m not talking about ads that violate the principles of the ASA and have to be taken down either.

 

Marketing and advertising teams depend on people talking about products, companies, shows- whatever they’re trying to promote; and what better way to get people talking than to start a good old fashioned debate?

Take the latest Cancer Research campaign – informing consumers of the link between obesity and cancer. Many people complained, stating that it ‘fat shamed’ individuals and lowered their self-esteem.

This sparked an online debate, with people vouching for both sides, which led to the ad being shared and talked about all over social media.

Think of how many people have now seen the ad. So, think of how people are now aware that obesity contributes to the development of cancer. Do you think an ad showing a microscope and cell would have had the same effect?

Whether or not they agree with the ad is irrelevant; these people still shared the ad with hundreds of people. What is relevant, however, is that the aim of the ad was to educate and inform consumers. Which it has.

Those who were so opposed to the ad, were the ones who actually promoted the campaign. Doing Cancer Research a favour. I mean, if you hate the ad so much, why are you giving the company free advertising space on your social media platforms?

Cancer Research essentially got free advertising and discussion about not only their organisation, but the message they were trying to spread.

 

In a similar way, Netflix’s show Insatiable got slated online with a large amount of viewers complaining about it. I had never heard of the show, but decided to watch it to ‘see what the fuss was about’; I ended up watching the whole series. If the show hadn’t been featured on the likes of Buzzfeed and social media, I probably would never even have heard of it, let alone watched it.

What people don’t seem to realise is that “hate watching” is still watching. Do you think a series which follows the social norms and is 100% politically correct would have been renewed for a second series? Doubt it.

 

Let’s be real, we’re all (I hope it’s not just me) guilty of being attracted to a wee bit of scandal and  the chance to give our opinions *has flashbacks to whether the dress was white and gold or blue and black* and companies know this – they have to get us talking after all.

(it was white and gold btw- just saying)

 

Advertisers love pushing boundaries. They have to think outside that clichéd box and come up with new and imaginative ideas for campaigns. If they didn’t push the boundaries, people wouldn’t react; and the whole point of advertising is to get a reaction from consumers. Yes, ideally you want consumers to actually like you, but, it’s a gamble that I guess can pay off. I somehow doubt that Cancer Research will have a tough time weighing up the cons of a few angry people vs the pros of raising awareness and saving lives.

The thing to note is the status of the company being controversial – the NHS can afford to be because, whether or not people agree with the ad, they’re most likely still going to avail of the NHS’s services. I doubt people would rather fork out a few grand for private healthcare than get it for free from a health provider that ran a questionable breastfeeding campaign.

Similarly, do you think consumers are going to ‘boycott’ a cancer research charity because they don’t like their ad? Don’t think so. So, whilst being controversial can be a good thing, it’s important for advertisers to think of the potential consequences of annoying consumers.

Advertisers also need to be aware of the fine line separating ‘controversial’ and just downright offensive. The last thing you want is for the ASA to be on your back, or having to withdraw a campaign you spent a hell of a lot of money on.

 

So, next time you see an ad and think “what the hell were they thinking?!” Maybe now you know.

Or, maybe they’re not the strategic marketing geniuses we thought they were and it really is just be a poorly thought out ad. Who knows?