Why the “Ryanair Business Class” Ad Makes a Common, Avoidable Mistake


Did you hear the  Ryanair business class radio ad which came out a few months ago?

The one for “business class” seats.

I heard it again on the radio at the weekend when I was out walking. The end of the ad is clever. Funny. Humorous. Amusing.

But there is a problem with that.

Let me explain.

The titans of copywriting have always been adamant that you don’t write to be cute or clever.

No. You write in plain, clear language.

Because the purpose of your ad is to sell.

Not to entertain, or be cute, or show how clever you are.

And the more people it appeals to, the more it is likely to sell.

And simple, clear language is how you ensure your ad is read and understood by the greatest number of people.

Humour should be avoided because you are not looking to entertain. You need to sell. This is the only purpose of advertising.

Back to the Ryanair ad..the end of the ad has the punch line “no business curtain?”

It’s “clever”. Makes me smile.

But I’m not paying for the ad.

Earlier in the ad though I am almost certain I heard 3 or 4 benefits or features of the Ryanair business class service. The problem is I can’t remember them. I can remember the “gag” though.

As David Oglivy, an advertising legend and founder of Oglivy and Mather, said: selling and writing to sell is a serious business. It is not a time to get “cute” or “funny”.

Ad agencies like to be seen as cute and funny and creative.

If you’re a small business owner, you can’t afford that luxury. I know I can’t.

As Oglivy says, “we sell…or else”.

Ensure that your message is unambiguous.

And understandable to the greatest number of people, regardless of their education.

Ernest Hemingway said

“people think I’m an ignorant bastard, that I don’t know any $10 words. I know plenty. But I use $2 words because I can tell a story perfectly well with the $2 words”.

Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.

And don’t try to be cute or entertaining like the Ryanair ad.

Not unless you have Ryanair’s advertising budget.