Ryanair 1.0


Many brands (and marketers) struggle to grapple with the true reality of digital marketing. 

In a landscape that’s ever changing, with technology improving daily, consumers constantly seeking our new and exciting ways to interact with each other (and manage their relationships with brands), the pace of development to some can be daunting. To others, exhilarating…

For any of you reading this that work in marketing and feel as though you could do with dusting down your digital skill set, head over to the IAB  (Internet Advertising Bureau) who run some great seminars and training courses to help brand owners (and agencies) deal with the ever changing playing field. Best part, is they are free to advertisers and members…

One marketing department that could do with popping over for tea and biscuits with the chaps over at the IAB is Ryanair, who have two big negative PR stories in the press this week. A ‘so what’ for brands under the old rules, but as we know, the old rules of brand management no longer apply…

One Jason Roe (a web developer by trade), put a post on his blog claiming he’d found a way to cheat certain pricing elements on the Ryanair website.

The following chain of events could be categorised as unfortunate, but they do clearly demonstrate how certain brands simply do not understand how to engage with their customers in a relevant and meaningful way in the digital space.

As yet unnamed Ryanair staff responded (quite negatively) to his blog post. This included calling him a liar, telling him they could hack his site and do what they wanted with it, the list goes on.

Not the most customer friendly response…

In the olden days we had the old adage of a good experience being shared with two or three close friends, and a bad experience being shared by eight or nine. These days however, the potential for an irate customers to spread the word are almost infinite.

After being picked up in the press, the official Ryanair response was;

‘Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again’.

Again, a clear demonstration that the brand ands its stewards do not understand the potential of the web, and the damage just a few individuals can very quickly wreak on the brand.

What started as an innocent blog post first set the blogosphere alight.

It was then picked up by the press, the fallout from the official response picking up even more column inches. All the while there are tweets a plenty, facebook on fire. The list goes on, all adding fuel to the fire…

The blog was the tip of the iceberg.

As this grew, the negative perception of the brand travelled at speed with it. Jason’s blog alone has 450 comments at last count. Now, factor in the way this has travelled across the social networks, email, the wider media.

The potential for this single negative brand experience to be swiftly shared with many and prolong the damage to the brand is truly enormous. We’re certainly talking a lot more than the eight or nine people we used to share a negative experience with in the ‘good old days’.

Smart brands engage. Provide a forum where irate customers can vent. But what separates the wheat from the chaff? The brands that use that very forum as a space to deal with the issues presented.

Turning that negative into a positive, ensuring angry consumers don’t ‘do a Jason Roe’, instead re-invigorating their love for your brand / product, ensuring they remain a true brand ambassador. And preferably spreading the good word.  

With a little careful management and a considered response from HQ, this could have been dealt with very, very quickly.

However, it was closely followed up with the negative press surrounding the possibility of people having to spend £1.00 to use Ryanairs’ onboard toilets.

Another PR clanger.

And as such, the Jason Roe story rumbles on, all the while leaving the hangar doors open to more negative brand exposure. I think it’s fair to say this hasn’t been the best week for Ryanair…

Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. Whilst his personal views don’t reflect that of his organisation, I can’t imagine there are too many of us out there keen to spend a pound in order to spend a penny.

Idiot blogger signing off… 

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About igmorrison

Modern day marketing comms man. If you want to know more about me, visit: www.linkedin.com/in/igmorrison find me on twitter @igmorrison or just leave me a comment.

2 responses to “Ryanair 1.0”

  1. Mark says :

    Ryanair consider all this to be free advertising.

    People don’t fly Ryanair because they’re nice to their customers.

    Ryanair go out of their way to be rude to discourage people from dealing with Ryanair staff, and taking up their valuable time.

    • igmorrison says :

      Ryanair pride themselves on cheap flights. All the add-ons aside, they generally offer exceptional value for money (if you book early enough), I don’t think anyone can dispute that.

      But money isn’t everything.

      Service and customer satisfaction are vital to the success of any brand in a competitive, cut-throat sector. Even in a recession when value for money counts more than ever, people still expect a certain level of service.

      People accept this kind of thing up to a point (online check in only, surly staff, paid baggage check in, airports a bit further out etc), but the current levels of negativity surrounding this brand (who have just posted heavy losses), would worry me ever so slightly if I worked in their marketing department.

      If I were a low-cost competitor, I’d be putting cheeky tactical briefs out on free toilets, love of bloggers, free luggage in the hold, central airports. It’s by no means unfixable, but the old adage no longer rings true. There is such a thing as bad press.

      And I’m not sure I would classify this as any sort of beneficial free advertising…

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