Bad PR: Will that be Porn with Your Ryanair Tix?

by PR Coach on November 9, 2011

Ryanair thrives on "any news"

You know you’re having another bad day in PR when your CEO gets headlines like Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary: ‘Passengers to Greece can pay in mountain goats’. Unless you work for Ryanair, where PR stunts like this are only an excuse to come up with something even more outrageous tomorrow.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary and his PR putzes have come up their latest “brilliant” PR coup. Yes, the airline that wants to make you pay for going to the potty. Now, it hopes to add value to your cheap air ticket by charging you extra for the privilege of viewing porn on your PC or smartphone inflight.

Only in Britain!

In announcing his plans, O’Leary offered this explanation to The Sun:

“I’m not talking about having it on screens on the back of seats for everyone to see. It would be on handheld devices.

“Hotels around the world have it, so why wouldn’t we?”

Why not, indeed?

Predictably, in the usual rush to the lowest common denominator, tabloid newspapers, TV and bloggers are feasting on and prominently featuring the latest Ryanair whack job idea.

UK newspapers were all over this one. The Sun broke the story yesterday with RYANAIR is planning to screen PORN on its flights. The MailOnline followed breathlessly with the story today Turning Ryanair blue: Boss of budget airline plans to screen in-flight pornography.

Within hours of the “news,” there are already 320 additional stories on Google News. The headlines are titillating, just as the publicity team no doubt schemed:

Coffee, tea or porn? [Canada.com]
iPad on a plane: Rentals and tablet porn ready for take off [ElectricPig.co.uk]
Porno on Planes? Ryanair Says Yes [SmarterTravel.com]
Ryanair Boss Proposes Porn on Planes [NBC]
Ryanair Now Giving Interviews on Mountain Goats and Porn [Jaunted]
Ryanair Renamed Porn-Am Airways [AVN]
Ryanair’s Latest Idea: In-Flight Porn” But don’t worry … you’d watch it on your phone, which is so much more private! [Newser]
Ryanair’s sky-high app plans [The Guardian]
Snakes out on a plane: Ryanair want to show porn on flights
[JOE]
What’s worse than snakes on a plane? Porn.
[Globe and Mail]
Ultrabudget Airline Ryanair Weighing Porn Apps [PC Mag]

I mean I’ve heard of “fly me” airline campaigns before but that was during the 1960s wasn’t it?

Ryanair is no stranger to bad PR, arrogance, duping its passengers with hidden fees and mocking its customers in social media.

‎The important questions remain. Do stupid stunts work? Is publicity of this type really effective in the medium to long term? Does it really sell more tickets? Or are Michael O’Leary and his marketing team crazy like a fox?

Ryanair had better be following social media very closely on this one. There are a ton of negative comments spreading across the Twitternet, FacePlant and Boogle.

Of course stunts like this totally discredit hard-working, ethical PR people everywhere. Knowingly distributing false or wrong information about plans that you know are not going to happen is simply unethical. However, some publicists still make their living doing crazy “stunts” or media relations in the belief that “any news is good news.”

Put it down to another example of the marketing department that thinks it knows best when it comes to public relations. Stupid is as stupid does and this one is right up there with the worst in my opinion. It just doesn’t fly!

What do you think? Is O’Leary a jerk or a genius? Would you like to sit beside someone viewing porn on their PC? Do PR stunts actually have a real ROI? Love to hear your comments below.

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