Sunday 21 December 2014

Days could be numbered for Ryanair cabin crew calendar

Published 13/03/2014 | 02:30

Michael O’Leary with Ryanair crew launching a Ryanair cabin crew charity calendar. SASKO LAZAROV/PHOTOCALL IRELAND
Michael O’Leary with Ryanair crew launching a Ryanair cabin crew charity calendar. SASKO LAZAROV/PHOTOCALL IRELAND

RYANAIR's new head of marketing has rubbished mobile network provider O2, pouring criticism on its product and sponsorship deals.

"Personally I think it's daft that the Irish rugby team are playing with O2 on their jerseys," said Kenny Jacobs in his first public speech since joining the airline. "That's a brand that doesn't exist in Ireland anymore. O2 is a great brand across Europe but in the context of this market here, I think O2 don't have great coverage, its prices are quite high. They have a very flashy website and they've pretty much sponsored anything going in town, I think they've probably spent about €30m between sponsorship and advertising. It's a good example of style over substance."

Ryanair has no plans for similar sponsorship deals and will not be sponsoring the country's rugby team, Mr Jacobs said. "We don't need to. We're the market leader here... there are probably better ways to spend our marketing euros."

An O2 spokesman said yesterday that O2 was "extremely proud of its award-winning sponsorships, which have driven value for O2's business in terms of customer loyalty and engagement".

The spokesman added that the phone company, which is currently up for sale, has received a rake of awards including the Marketing Team of the Year Award in 2011 and 2012 from the Marketing Institute of Ireland as well as the prestigious Cannes Lion and Kinsale Shark awards in 2009 and 2010.

Speaking at digital marketing conference DMX Dublin, Mr Jacobs outlined a host of new initiatives being rolled out at Ryanair, which is currently revamping its image in a drive to appease customers and tackle growing competition in the short-haul markets.

"Eventually we'll all be using something on our wrist to board an aircraft," he said, outlining sweeping changes that the airline is adding to the boarding process. In the short term, technology is being rolled out that will let passengers board using their mobile devices rather than printed boarding cards.

The airline is pushing a data-driven approach to sales, he said, starting by gathering customer information on new online booking facility "My Ryanair", where passengers can save details like their passport number so they don't have to enter it in future.

"Eventually we want people to be able to book a family holiday with two or three clicks," he said. It currently takes five clicks to book, down from 17 in November.

"We'll know where you like to go, how you like to pay," he said, following an approach pioneered by Tesco, Amazon and UK clothing retailer John Lewis.

Ryanair is trying to establish more of an emotional bond with customers, he added. It has started by fixing what customers didn't like, he said, calling a new rule which allows passengers to take a second carry-on bag on board "a phenomenal success".

Its annual calendar, which features scantily-clad Ryanair air hostesses, may even be scrapped. "Watch this space", Mr Jacobs said.

One thing not up for debate is Ryanair's strategy of flying to peripheral airports far from city centres, like Paris Beauvais, which are generally cheaper for the airline.

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