If Ryanair ran a pub the landlord would be a loud-mouthed cockney character. It would cost five pounds to get in – and £77 to get back out. As you approached the bar he would growl at you for your bad time-keeping, or ignore you completely.
Your eyes would be drawn to an advert with prices announcing a pound per pint. Upon buying two pints you would be charged £48.99. If you wanted to pay on card that would cost an additional £5. Plus a £5 administration fee. As the landlord served you he would grope your wife’s tits, leering as he did so.
If you wanted to sit down in cramped seats that would be another fiver. A bag of scampi fries would cost eight pounds.
If you wanted a piss that would cost another £4. While you were trying to enjoy your pint in peace a sour-faced glass collector would try to sell you magazines, snacks, lottery tickets, perfume, booze, car rental, urinal cakes, pornography and small bits of fluff off the floor for absurdly inflated amounts. Almost constantly.
You would look around – and see fear, anger and discomfort writ large on the face of every punter in there. A mixture of aggression and boredom on the faces of the staff.
You might be tempted to take back your pint – it not being what you expected – but would be mindful of the fact that the landlord punched the last guy in the face.
Upon leaving the pub you might notice that your wife’s handbag has gone missing. Upon going back into the pub the landlord would scream at you to leave or simply ignore you until you went away.
Looking back, one last time, at the Ryanair pub, you would notice the board swinging in the wind. But it would not have ‘The Ryanair Arms’ written on it. It would have ‘Fuck You, You Fucking Mugs’ written on it.
Ryanair has ploughed a furrow in marketing that is unique. It makes its own customers despise it. It makes the press goggle at the sheer brass neck – and luxuriates in the warm glow of free publicity whenever the media bites greedily at another of its stunts.
It has ensured that its press releases will always be picked up by the media – a task probably thought impossible before Ryanair came along – through the sheer unpleasantness of what it is and what it does.
It’s a kind of evil genius, yet it merely replicates behaviour that can be seen all over the internet on any given day. Trolling. Dog whistling – call it what you want. Deliberately causing offence just to get some attention.
And just as it works on the internet – where people can’t resist the listless trolling of some berk in his bedroom – the media and the public can’t resist being outraged by Ryanair. Which is just what it wants.
At least Ryanair is honest, you might think. But it’s not. It’s honest about wanting your money. But it’s not honest about how it gets it. “Aren’t we outrageous?,” it says like a pantomime villain. Only a pantomime villain who displays all the public traits of a genuine sociopath.
The ad below has been duly banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, but it’s already run across the newspapers. By banning it, the ASA have guaranteed that it will be printed in a hundred more places – and thousands more people will see its key message – one that they probably know to be a swizz – and file it away in their subconsciousness, until the next time they come to book a flight.